Melissa Leon, MPH

Community Health

1. In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health means to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals.

2. What inspired you to study to public health?

I was inspired to study public health by mentoring elementary students in a disadvantaged area in NJ. Through the personal relationship I built with those students, I realized the effect we as individuals can have on others. I knew that I wanted to make a bigger impact in the lives of others.

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

The most rewarding part of my studies so far has been the relationships I have made through interviewing participants in my research studies. I am always amazed on how open and welcoming each individual is about their experiences and their willingness to share all aspects of their health. I appreciate deeply the trust they have on us as researchers to make a difference in their lives and those of others.

4. What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?

Take time to find your passion within public health. Don’t be afraid to use your professors and fellow peers as a resource to understand what personally drives you to make a difference.

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

The biggest challenges in the field of public health are health disparities with minority and underserved populations.