What inspired you to study to public health?
I grew up in a country where access to adequate health care is a luxury. Too many times, I have witnessed the loss of life in Haiti due to the lack of proper medical care and limited access to medical facilities. Growing up in a family of physicians, one of them being my mother, I developed the strong desire to improve the health of individuals through medicine and also participate in the development of healthier communities. Therefore, I decided to earn a Master’s of Public Health to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
Working on projects with Dr. Erin Kobetz early on in my degree has been an unparalleled experience. I was given the opportunity to help the Haitian community by enthusiastically working on interventions aimed at decreasing the burden of colorectal and cervical cancer. I was able to apply on the field concepts that I learned inside the classroom, and, most importantly, to help my brothers and sisters from Haiti.
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?
I would say start to seriously brainstorm about your capstone project as soon as you start your degree; do not wait. Use the numerous volunteering opportunities and take advantage of the expertise and current research of faculty. The capstone should not only be a project required to graduate but a program that can be implemented permanently to help the communities that are in need. Use this opportunity to make a change.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
Public health focus should shift toward providing accessible and affordable resources for the population being educated to make healthier choices. A lot of effort is being put in increasing awareness about health, but the infrastructures in numerous communities are not present. The scarcity of affordable resources is a barrier preventing individuals to apply what they learn. Therefore, increasing the access to healthier food markets in poor communities would be of utmost importance to help individuals improve their diet and break from the cycle of obesity and diabetes.