What inspired you to study public health?
I was inspired to study public health through a couple of different avenues. Firstly, I worked as an IT/Application Support Specialist at a family medicine residency clinic. In this position, I helped with many quality improvement initiatives that made me interested in social determinants of health and public health policies. I was really motivated after a few horrible legislative sessions in South Dakota where many anti-Queer (mainly anti-trans) bills were trying to be passed – a lot of them concerning health care! I had been trying to figure out what I wanted to do next in life, and after working in the clinic and doing advocacy work, I decided to merge my passions of healthcare and advocacy and pursue and MPH.
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 participate in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT). 3MT is a program that originated from the University of Queensland in which research students are required to explain their thesis in three minutes or less. We prepared for about 3 months, reworking our speeches and PowerPoint slide and taking advice and suggestions from professionals in the field. It was a wonderful experience to be able to present the work I had been doing throughout my MPH program to a variety of individuals. It also helped me to craft my communication skills when thinking about disseminating results, which is really important.
Where did you do your practicum? What was it about?
Lost&Found – I did a lot of work on the Campus Resilience Index, which looks at strategies for suicide prevention and postvention among college campuses. I also helped create educational curriculum for LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit inclusivity.
What do you hope to accomplish in your career?
My biggest passion for my career is to utilize research and data to help drive equitable policy change for LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit individuals. This passion was the main reason I chose to specialize in Population Health Research and Analytics. I wanted to learn the skills and strategies necessary to create quality study designs and to learn how to critique and “debunk” problematic studies. Oftentimes, we see policymakers using poorly designed research with non-significant results to pass extremely poor legislation, specifically surrounding the LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit community. My goal is to help create quality data that can drive positive social and healthcare policy.
One piece of advice I wish someone had given me when starting out in public health is to get involved in local public health organizations or communities as soon as possible. It not only helps to build a sense of community but also helps provide a group of people to talk about public health. I’ve been so grateful for my experience with the This is Public Health Cohort, and I would strongly advise early public health professionals to find a community of people to bounce ideas off of, vent to, and celebrate with.
Current Position June 2023:
Research and Evaluation Specialist at Lost&Found
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