Emma Lavilles, MPH

University of Wollongong
Health Promotion

What inspired you to study public health?

There are several factors that encouraged me to study public health. One of the reasons being I come from a mixed heritage background, while I did not know too much about the social determinants, this is an area I was interested in. Visiting the Philippines where my father originated from and comparing the differences with Australia, my home country. I could really see how social determinants play a vital part in a person’s health and how there are such high inequalities and inequities. I have always been interested in health promotion, and being able to study public health has really helped to further this interest.

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

Being given the opportunity to further understand health policy and learn how to create health-promoting campaigns that align with policy. I have been able to do this through the vaping campaign that I have been helping out with. It has been really rewarding to work on a topic that is a new and upcoming area. Being able to see governments and policies being made in reaction to this concern.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career?

I have always been interested in disadvantaged communities both in Australia and overseas. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel both personally and as part of my studies where I have visited several disadvantaged communities and this sparked a desire to work alongside communities. Seeing the impacts that covid had on populations and communities that are disadvantaged, really showed me a great need for public health. To see and hear about this underlined for me a growing need for equitable opportunities and the importance of addressing the social determinants.


Starting out in public health it can be overwhelming to know what direction to take as it is so diverse and broad. Something I have been learning during the MPH is to keep an open mind and take time to find the areas that you are passionate about.