Berlin, Tokyo, Geneva, London, New Orleans, Boston.

Sarah Krull Abe’s education has taken place all over the world, but it started right here at Suffolk University.

Abe is pursuing a PhD in global health policy at the University of Tokyo, following a career and educational path that began when she signed up for Suffolk’s Alternative Spring Break program as a senior. She spent a week working alongside fellow students to rebuild a home for a New Orleans family two years after Hurricane Katrina.

Unexpected opportunity

Abe learned a valuable lesson beyond the classroom as she rolled up her sleeves and got her hands dirty – installing sheetrock and insulation and hacking back overgrown grass and weeds. She slept on a cot in a gutted elementary school with 700 other volunteers.

“Working hard doing manual labor with other students was one of those unexpected opportunities that turned out to be so rewarding,” says Abe, who recently was honored at a “10 Under 10” alumni reception. “The bonds I made with my Suffolk classmates on that trip will last a lifetime.”

Americorps volunteer

Abe continued her service efforts after receiving a bachelor of science degree in Government in 2007, committing to a year with Americorps in Chicago. She was involved in the Organic School Project, which educated underprivileged school-age children about healthier lifestyles.

Next she returned to her native Germany to pursue a master’s degree at the Berlin School of Public Health. Abe was a project manager at the first World Health Summit in 2009, where she convened leaders health, academia, politics, the media and other industries.

Writing about 'the most vulnerable'

Her marriage to Masatada Abe, a 2007 Suffolk alumnus, eventually brought her to his native Tokyo. As she pursued her studies there, she joined a group of doctors, students and volunteers in Fukushima to assist with health checks following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

She later joined colleagues in publishing the article “Voice of the most vulnerable: What we can learn from the Fukushima nuclear crisis” in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

Last year, Abe interned at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, then spent three months in an internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Staying connected to Suffolk

Abe is still in touch with other Suffolk alumni and sometimes represents her alma mater at admission functions and college fairs in Europe and Japan.

“I can't emphasize how valuable it is to stay connected to your college friends,” she says. “Just last week, we had a surprise visit from an Indonesian friend from Suffolk who was visiting Tokyo with his extended family.”

Although she couldn't attend, Abe was one of the young alumni recognized for their accomplishments at the “10 Under 10” reception hosted by the Alumni Association in April. The 10 alumni honored earned their Suffolk University degrees within the past decade.