Carlos Orellana Garcia

Carlos Orellana Garcia, MPH

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Graduate Program in Public Health

What inspired you to study public health?

There are many moments the inspired me to pursue public health, but one of them was volunteering at Texas Children’s Hospital. I interacted with many international families and patients, which I was able to get to know their stories and understand any hurdles that they were facing. As an immigrant in this country, I was able to empathize and understand these patients and their families. As I was taking my undergraduate courses, I was learning the introductions of social determinants of health and health disparities topics, which motivated me to pursue public health and become an advocate for these community members.

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

One of the most rewarding opportunities through my studies has been working in an interprofessional environment and learn at a wider scope in public health. Being part of the Interprofessional Scholars program (IPE) at UTMB, I have been able to enhance my studies as I learn different approaches to take on healthcare barriers within the communities and incorporate this training through my classes, my practicum, and my future. This opportunity has also enriched personal growth and develop better interpersonal skills to interact with different audiences.

If you want to become a great public health leader/scholar and be able to health your community, you also need to take care of yourself. Take awareness of your mental health as you begin graduate school. Starting graduate school during the COVID-19 pandemic was very difficult for many of us. This transition brought more stress factors which was difficult at the beginning of my first semester. Understanding one’s mental health is important in order to set limits for your own well-being.

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

One of the biggest challenges that public health should focus on is rebuilding the bridges within marginalized communities. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated many systemic issues happening within our cities and countries. Which many underrepresented populations have been dealing with hardships throughout generations of trauma. To address many of these issues, we must understand and listen to these communities and their “stories”. We must understand where their fear is coming from and validate them to correct these issues and rebuild a better and healthier future for this generation and future ones to come.