MPH, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Georgia College of Public Health
What inspired you to study public health?
Prior to undergrad, I was a lost teenager who did not know what they wanted for their future. I was fortunate enough in high school to attend a surgical mission trip to shadow in the rural Haiti area. I gained a passion for underserved and less fortunate people when it came to their health. I made it my goal aspiration to treat healthcare as a right and not a privilege, no matter who the patient was. In undergrad, I knew I had a strong passion for healthcare and medicine. I was a chemistry major, and thus spent a lot of time in the lab. Although I knew medicine was the route I ultimately aspired to follow, there was something about the classroom work and research that inspired me. Upon reaching my senior year of my undergraduate career, something told me I was not ready for medical school. Thus, I began to study for the GRE rather than the MCAT. I realized public health is a physician of the community and without public health professionals and public health advocacy, there would be no advancement to our health industry. I realized that I dream to work for the progression of medicine–working within medical labs towards the future of prevention of diseases within our communities. I want to be the healthcare professional who advocates for those are who less fortunate. Public health, and public health research, to me is the future of medicine.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
My first semester of graduate school I was asked to complete a systematic review dealing with some diagnostic/screening method. I chose to devote my semester to studying the accuracy of the COVID-19 diagnostic nasopharyngeal tests. This study took me an entire semester to complete the data analysis. Upon finishing, I was under the impression that I was just submitting this project and data for a grade. After submitting this project I was recognized by several faculty members and a professor asking to share and use my data and research for further studies. Not to boast, I did not expect something I was working on as a first year graduate student to influence professors, healthcare professionals, and researchers alike. However, this experience really showed me what public health means. Public health is doing research and observations that will help in the future/ save the life of someone down the road.
One piece of advice I wish I had in mind when I began my career in public health would be to treat healthcare and the health of those around you as if you had the chance to make the perfect society- with no diseases. What would be different? Use this mindset as the driving force for all preventative measures.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
The biggest challenge that needs attention today is healthcare access and healthcare transparency to the patients.