Student Spotlight: Alex Ivanchev ’25, ’26 MPH

With his multicultural and multilingual background, Alex Ivanchev discussed how the Watson Institute’s International and Public Affairs (IAPA) concentration informs his passion for international reproductive health education.


Venice, Florida


International and Public Affairs & Public Health

With a Bulgarian father and Russian mother, Alex Ivanchev, a student in Brown University's five-year combined Undergraduate/Master of Public Health program at Brown University, learned Bulgarian and Russian as his first languages. "[Coming from] a multicultural household and choosing the International and Public Affairs concentration, I view all issues through a global perspective," said Ivanchev, who also speaks some Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese. "In an increasingly globalized world, it's important to evaluate issues beyond the perspective of the United States," he said.

A first-generation college student, Ivanchev expressed his gratitude for the opportunities offered to him at Brown. "I love the Open Curriculum, which lets me take control of my own education. I'm a very independent learner. It's a special feeling when you put a lot of time into a course because you're so passionate about the topic."

With Brown's Open Curriculum and IAPA's flexible course requirements, Ivanchev appreciates the opportunities to study across a wide array of disciplines, which deepen his ability to examine different issues through diverse perspectives. "I'm taking a seminar this semester [Displaced: How Global Systems Shape Refugee Families taught by Watson post-doc Blair Sackett] that examines how refugees' identities are shaped by global systems. Courses like these have allowed me to be laser-focused on what I want to pursue in the future," said Ivanchev.

Ivanchev is particularly dedicated to addressing comprehensive, inclusive sex education as a public health issue. "I was raised in a socially conservative environment in Florida, where sex education was withheld from young people," he said. "If you don't know about your body, the choices you make about your relationships and reproduction are limited." In high school, Ivanchev joined a Planned Parenthood peer education pilot program. "I was part of a cohort that was equipped with comprehensive sexual health knowledge; we were then encouraged to 'share the wealth' and exchange this information with our peers. I helped facilitate open, non-judgmental conversations with people my age to slowly erase the stigma associated with sex."

“ I'm keen on learning about cross-cultural perspectives on health and how we may best promote it. I don't want to be confined to a U.S.-based understanding of health. ”

Alex Ivanchev IAPA Class of 2025, MPH Class of 2026

A consistent thread in his academic career, Ivanchev's commitment to sexual health advocacy has budded into a passion for public health. "I'm excited to pursue the field of global health as it intersects with sexual health and reproductive justice," he said. "I'm keen on learning about cross-cultural perspectives on health and how we may best promote it. I don't want to be confined to a U.S.-based understanding of health."  

At Brown, Ivanchev is a site leader for Sexual Health Advocacy and Peer Education (SHAPE), which partners with Planned Parenthood and the Providence Public School District to facilitate a sex education curriculum for Providence students. As a coordinator for the Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG) under BWell Health Promotion, Ivanchev has developed projects promoting sexual well-being on campus, such as Sex Week 2023, and facilitated a Culture of Consent Class Meeting for the first-year class to foster a community of care. 

Ivanchev juggles other roles, too: he has begun training to become a doula (someone who provides guidance and support to a pregnant person) through a collaboration between Brown's Reproductive In/Justice course and the Mama Glow Foundation. He hopes to receive his full certification soon.

Through his engagement with BWell, Ivanchev has become more intent on personal well-being. "My health is the most important thing to me. For me to pursue what I'm passionate about, I must tend to my holistic wellbeing," he said. "I journal, vision board and meditate." He believes Brown's support for campus health initiatives shows its commitment to student well-being.

Ivanchev noted Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice of Gender and Sexuality Studies Latham Thomas, who also founded the Mama Glow Foundation, and BWell Associate Director of Empowerment and Prevention Naomi Ninneman have been enormously helpful in tying his academic interests to his professional goals. "I don't know who my future employer will be, but my heart is drawn to ameliorating population health in a meaningful way," said Ivanchev.