March 2020, I graduated from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. Before completing my Master of Public Heath, I took a gap year where I started volunteering at a 300 bed men’s congregate living shelter located at the Denver Coliseum, a building typically used for large events. This experience, along with working at a women’s shelter inspired me to change course and pursue public health. While at the Colorado School of Public Health, I completed my practicum at a local public health department. I worked with Jefferson County’s Substance Use Partnership, a multi-sector collective impact coalition focused on bringing together a diverse array of stakeholders to identify and champion systems-level initiatives to address substance use-related challenges. I created an inclusive orientation manual for new coalition members and utilized system-level thinking and upstream approaches to focus on equity and collaboration with diverse stakeholders. Additionally, I was able to apply concepts I learned and conducted a strengths and needs assessment to identify the opportunities and capacity for frontline services for people experiencing homelessness in the City of Aurora. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, being outdoors, baking, and reading thrillers.
Witnessing the health disparities people experiencing homelessness faced while volunteering inspired me to pursue a degree that would allow me to focus on many of the health disparities they faced. Before volunteering, I was unfamiliar with the vastness of public health but always wondered how things could have been different for the lives of the people at the shelters if intervention had occurred at an earlier point. Studying public health allowed me to learn about the social determinants of health and the power of prevention which is something I would like to further focus on in my career.
I am interested in working in public health because it is where my passion lies. I want to utilize my knowledge to improve population well-being especially with vulnerable populations that face many risk factors. Fortunately, I was able to directly apply my academic coursework to the interests that were sparked during my time at the shelter, particularly in the field of overdose prevention. I am now eagerly looking forward to leveraging the knowledge and skills I gained in the classroom to make an even greater impact in my future work.
Through this program I hope to build my confidence in my professional abilities, grow my skillset, and build new connections. I hope to further broaden my understanding of the challenges and evidence- based strategies associated with the prevention of overdose. I look forward to the opportunity to apply everything I learn in this fellowship to new contexts throughout my public health career.
During my time as a CDC fellow, I will aid in various projects related to the synthesis and analysis of various effective overdose prevention strategies in support of state and local health departments. I will also assist in supporting the CDC’s new 5-year Co-operative Agreements.