In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public health is a collection of innovative ideas to improve varying aspects of life for populations of people.
What inspired you to study public health?
My inspiration to pursue public health stems from my desire to leave a positive mark on the world. In the field of public health, I feel I am able to help many people at a time through the interpretation of population data and using that information to make informed decisions about the best way to serve groups of people. Public health serves a wide reach of people, and no person is left untouched by its purpose.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
One of the most rewarding experiences I have had is presenting at a local high school and teaching a group of Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) about public health. Going into the presentation, many of these students displayed an interest in going into a form of clinical practice (i.e. doctors, and nurses). After the presentation, I spoke to a student who wanted to learn more about epidemiology. It was very exciting to share my passion for the field and help encourage a young student to think about different career options related to health. Additionally, one of the teacher sponsors for this organization bumped into me this year and remembered my role and presentation. She introduced me to her daughter who has taken an interest in epidemiology, and I have been in touch with her on ways that she can prepare for an epidemiological career. I greatly enjoy being able to speak to young audiences and exposing them to the field of public health because it is something that I didn’t learn about until my third year in undergraduate studies.
Soak in and reflect on every experience you have because Public health is in every corner of our life. When you go to the grocery store, notice the pieces of public health that you see: the crosswalks in the parking lot; the wipes for the cart; the nutrition labels on food. When you are driving, watch for public health: the stoplights; markings on the street; the road signs. When you are in your home, observe your own public health practice: How do you wash your hands? How do you maintain air quality? What type of water do you drink? Public health surrounds us, and to find success in the field we need to pay attention to it small and large.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
I believe public health should focus on how social determinants impact the overall quality of health in people, and work to remove stigmas related to these social constructs. This can include poverty, race/ethnicity, education, and gender.