What inspired you to study public health?
To work in the field of public health, you must have the mindset that your academic and career endeavors will impact and influence others in a beneficial way. I have had many opportunities throughout my education where I have found joy in helping others. I was inspired to study public health to merge my STEM background and my compassion towards helping those in need into a career. Before starting my Master of Public Health degree program, I envisioned what my studies, academic passions, and prospective research projects would look like. However, my graduate program has enlightened me on how encompassing the field of public health is. Even in a degree program concentrating in Global Health, I have been able to design a carefully curated curriculum where I have enjoyed learning subjects such as Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Health Leadership and Innovation. My professional goals with this specific degree include working with various populations from different areas across the globe. I am building a comprehensive skillset to do so with my public health education.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
The single most rewarding experience of my studies so far has been the opportunity to work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant during the first year of my MPH program. I aspire to teach at the collegiate level as a career, and I have also had opportunities to teach during my time as an undergraduate student. This teaching experience as a graduate student, especially during remote circumstances, has been quite like no other. Being a Graduate Teaching Assistant has strengthened my compassion and understanding towards my students regarding the adversities they face with remote learning. It has also shown me the dedication and effort it takes to educate others remotely.
Public health is a growing field. It encompasses various areas such as climate change, politics, and social justice, infectious diseases, maternal health, and more. To strengthen your knowledge and skills, you must immerse yourself in the various subjects that public health covers and the courses that your program has to offer. By taking classes on topics such as Geographic Information Systems, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and International Health, you will not only expand your knowledge and skills but also find your academic and career interests.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
Directly relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would say that vaccine hesitancy is the biggest challenge. However, a public health challenge specific to my interests is malnutrition. This critical issue has also been exacerbated due to the pandemic. Research has found that lockdowns related to the pandemic led to dramatic changes in food availability and health behaviors, prompting people to go hungry or eat more unhealthy foods. Combatting malnutrition, especially in the wake of a pandemic, needs to include more awareness and education surrounding proper nutritional foods and increasing access to those options.