In one sentence, what is public health to you?
In my opinion, public health is the overall well-being of human beings and society, in terms of mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
What inspired you to study public health?
Travelling to Ecuador in undergrad opened up my eyes to the dynamic health systems that exist across the globe, more so than I had ever experienced before. I took a Global Health Perspectives course which aligned so strongly with my passions by both studying in the classroom and learning from my professors and peers, but also going out into the world and seeking more than just what was taught in the classroom setting. We traveled through indigenous communities, public and private hospitals, and rural community health clinics that sparked my tendencies to ask questions, spark curious debates, and to talk with others to understand more about the world outside of my own and outside of my own experiences. Public health is a dynamic field that changes rapidly, and I am the kind of person who enjoys change and engages in as many opportunities that this field has to offer.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
My studies have aligned so much with my personal interests -that for me is the most rewarding experience. My passions in communicating with others and asking questions, travelling to new places, volunteering and engaging in community outreach have aligned with my degree in so many different directions that feels more whole and complete than any of my experiences in a career or my educational pursuits have ever felt before.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The only “dumb” question is the question not asked. I value my ability to speak with my professors and peers and ask questions and speak up in class. It may seem daunting at times because there are many differing viewpoints, but at the end of the day, it is the most rewarding experience to gather information for oneself and to find more answers behind that one question and to keep the discussion and dialogue open with friends and family and spark more curiosity into this world. The best advice I wish someone had given me is to always ask questions and never stop asking them. Never silence curiosity.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
Each and every day, society and specifically, individuals, experience the world in the most unique way. These experiences may be difficult for people to face alone and I firmly believe the most important focus must be on opening up and being vulnerable. Vulnerability is so difficult at times, yet once the mind and the body are able to connect with others it feels easier to connect and discuss the heavy topics that are included in the Public Health Field. Vulnerability comes in different shapes and sizes: engaging with others, interacting with the community, living in the present moment. Only when we as humans are able to connect, whether through social networking channels, cellular devices, or face to face, things are not so scary.