Pun uses communication skills to help explain health topics


Name: Insha Pun

College: Fine Arts and Communication

Major: Communication with a concentration in health communication

Age: 27

Classification/Year: Graduate student

Hometown: Babiyachaur, Nepal

Hobbies/interests: Cooking and working out in the gym


Favorite hangout: Town Common

Favorite place on campus: Joyner Library

Favorite place to eat: Office room, eating homemade food

Favorite class: Communication pedagogy

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Sachiyo Shearman

Favorite TV show: “Herne Katha” (Nepali documentary)

Favorite band/musician: Sajjan Raj Vaidya (Nepali singer based in the U.S.)


Dream job: Professor in an educational institute

Role models: My parents and elder brother

Your words to live by: Humility and a positive outlook helps you plant anywhere firmly.

What advice do you have for other students? Come at ECU with a ton of humility and positivity and allow yourself to be nourished by the offerings of ECU.

As a nurse, Insha Pun’s patients always came first.

She cared for women and children in a clinic in Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu and in rural areas as a UNICEF health trainee. She also conducted research on topics ranging from patient safety to adolescent mental health.

“I realized that it was so important to break down technical information into easy, understandable language for different audiences,” Pun said. “Like for decision-makers, it should be worded differently, and for community people, it should be different but the same information, same message.”

Headshot of Insha Pun


That insight led to her interest in the health communication field. No degree programs are available in Nepal, Pun said, but an online search pointed her to the United States and East Carolina University’s School of Communication.

On Friday, Pun will graduate from ECU with a master’s degree in communication with a concentration in health communication. She has completed the 30-hour program in 16 months after moving almost 8,000 miles to Greenville, where she has worked as a graduate assistant in communication, both as a teaching assistant and research assistant.

Having the opportunity to take classes while working as a graduate assistant was one reason she chose ECU. Out of three universities she considered, Pun was impressed with the quick response she received from Keith Richards, director of graduate programs in communication. “I really admired that promptness. I got a really good early impression of ECU,” Pun said. “Overall, it has been a fulfilling experience 100% here. I’m happy with my decision.”

Pun’s thesis examines American youth attitudes toward menstruation and their early communication experiences of menstruation. “Early in my life I was always interested in how we don’t talk about certain health topics such as the stigmatized ones that I learned after I did my nursing,” she said. “Right after graduating as a nurse and getting my license, I was keen on having a community health experience.”

In most U.S. schools, students are gender-segregated when they are taught about puberty. But evidence from her study suggests that introducing open dialogue in an inclusive, non-judgmental environment beginning at about age 9 would help reduce misinformation or stigma about sexual and reproductive health, Pun said.

While at ECU, she presented a film about menstrual health that she co-directed in Nepal at the 150th American Public Health Association conference in Boston. At the end of May, Pun and ECU communication faculty members Adrienne Muldrow and Sachiyo Shearman will present their paper on perceived skepticism toward COVID-19 vaccination messaging at the International Communication Association conference. Pun recently shared her thesis research on campus during ECU’s Research and Creative Achievement Week.

With graduation just a few days away, Pun said she is excited, nervous and has a mixture of feelings. Unfortunately, her parents can’t travel from Nepal for the ceremony, but professors Shearman and Brian Massey have promised to stand in.

Pun said she is grateful for the positive relationships she has developed in her department, particularly with Shearman, who has provided solace for Pun as an international student. She also has appreciated Joyner Library’s resources.

After graduation, Pun plans to work in a research position while preparing to apply to public health doctoral programs. She is interested in continuing to study the communication process of stigmatized topics, especially those related to menstruation and sexual health. She hopes to work with underserved residents in the U.S., Nepal and around the world.