What inspired you to study public health?
Prior to starting my public health program , I worked with underserved communities of the Washington, DC metropolitan region. It was during this time that I became increasingly aware of the disparities populations face, these ranging from poverty to harrowing experiences of human trafficking. Being among people who have lived through these experiences is what inspired me to become a public health leader. Their voices are what instilled the passion to craft effective, empowering, and culturally competent solutions to attenuate the health disparities among vulnerable populations.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
The impact of hope to underserved individuals in both the developed and developing world is invaluable. A year ago I was fortunate to travel with a medical team to the Dominican Republic to provide ophthalmic health promotion, disease prevention, and eye surgeries to underprivileged adults and children. I experienced first-hand the difference I can make by serving others and the appreciation from the lives I helped change will be forever etched in my memory. The opportunity to learn, teach, and interact in a most human way provided a different perspective on the value of hope and how to further advocate for underserved communities.
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?
Public health is filled with endless opportunities that are driven by constant challenges. These challenges are always evolving, for example the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases and the childhood obesity epidemic. Therefore, it is important to maintain an open mind and not narrow your specialty too soon. Be passionate, committed, and have fun.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
I think the biggest challenge that public health advocates should address is one that affects the entire world: global climate change. Unless we act immediately, purposefully and direct greater resources to Earth’s ecosystem, there will be severe adverse effects on the population’s health and further multiply the current public health issues.