Deanna Gatling, MPH

University of Virginia MPH Program
Environmental Health

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health is a collaboration of concepts and ideas that are the foundation for building strong, healthy communities.

What inspired you to study public health?

My great grandmother inspired me with her work and advocacy for marginalized populations. Before her passing, she built an orthopedic hospital for individuals inflicted with polio in Ghana. Her kind heart and hard-work inspired me to make strides to contribute to the health and well-being of others.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to work with Montessori students. We taught them about the United Nations and conducted a model United Nations simulation. It was beyond amazing to see how much information they understood and the professional decorum they displayed during the simulation.


Don’t over extend yourself by caring about every issue, protect your mental health.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

I think the field of public health should be focusing on ensuring access to care. Increasing the number of providers for mental health, primary caregivers, or the number of facilities is meaningless if individuals are unable to obtain access to these entities and utilize the services they need to maintain a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness.