Jada Smith, MPH

University of Virginia MPH Program
Health Policy, Law, and Ethics

What inspired you to study public health? 

During my first year of undergrad, I took a class called “Global Public Health: Challenges and Innovations.” Before taking this class, my perspective on health and illness was based strictly on biomedical science. However, I quickly learned that was not the case, as this course helped me critically examine health through a socio-cultural, political, and economic lens. From that moment on, I seized every opportunity to learn about all the factors impacting health and decided to major in Global Public Health and pursue an MPH.

Where did you do your practicum? What was it about? 

For my applied practice, I interned with a non-profit doula organization in Charlottesville, VA. As someone who is passionate about maternal health and understands the essential role doulas play in advocating to protect women’s autonomy and ensuring that they have supportive and empowering births, I was so honored to play a tiny part in helping them conduct research to identify ways they could better reach and serve mothers from marginalized communities.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career? 

As I pursue a career in reproductive health policy, I hope to do impactful work that advocates for the protection of women’s autonomy and improves their health outcomes and satisfaction.


One piece of advice I would give someone starting out in public health is to seek opportunities for hands-on public health internships, volunteer work, and research early on. These experiences will be invaluable in enhancing your academic and professional skill sets and boosting your public health network.

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