Kara Sapp, MS, MPH

University of California, Berkeley
Health Policy and Management

I have always been interested in human and life sciences and obtained my BS and MS from Temple University in Kinesiology, with a focus in Sport Psychology during graduate school. During the early days of the COVID-19, I worked on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Health doing contact tracing and case investigation. Around this time, I decided to pursue my Masters of Public Health at UC Berkeley with a focus in health policy and management, which I completed in May 2023. Over the past two years, I have worked for non-profit organizations in Philadelphia doing community outreach, recovery support, direct case management, and program management for some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable populations. Most recently, I have worked as a program coordinator for the Hepatitis B Foundation, an organization committed to raising awareness, promoting education, advocating for patients, and conducting research around hepatitis B on both a national and international scale.

I was especially motivated to pursue public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was clear that more public health professionals and leaders were needed at this crucial time. I also live in Philadelphia, a city that deals with deep poverty. Witnessing health disparities and reduced quality of life as a result of the lack of access to resources and care (issues that were exacerbated during the pandemic) urged me to follow this career path.

I am interested in public health because of its critical role in addressing varied aspects of population health. This field encompasses a wide range of activities, initiatives, and programs aimed at protecting and the well-being of the public. This work is extremely fulfilling and meaningful to me, especially considering the wide gaps in health equity. Having worked with vulnerable populations over the past two years in the U.S. and abroad, I am eager continue working to reduce the gap in health disparities, particularly related to mental health and substance use.

I hope to continue to improve skills related to program planning and implementation, health communications, research, data analysis, population needs assessments, and program evaluation. I also hope to develop a greater understanding of health promotion and strategizing on a national scale, particularly for high-risk groups. I will be working to improve health outcomes related to mental health and emotional well-being, which I have done on a local level with the veteran and unstably housed populations, particularly with those who misuse substances. I hope to expand my understanding of these issues and the synergistic effects of poverty, mental health diagnoses, and substance use.
My fellowship project will focus on improving mental health and emotional well-being at the population level, particularly for vulnerable, high-risk sub-groups. I will assess and evaluate the needs, assets, and capacities that impact populations and will develop a plan and promotion materials to influence the adoption of practices to support mental health and emotional well-being. The project will work to assist individuals