What inspired you to study to public health?
The thought of seeing people suffering pains me, because I know I would not want to live that life. My passion involves helping the underserved and providing them with tools to live healthier lives. I became interested as a child, after seeing many of my family being diagnosed with and die from chronic diseases, and from shadowing my mother in the hospital. Each encounter with ailing patients piqued my curiosity in discovering what I could contribute to their healing. As a result, I felt that public health would enable me to address determinants leading to the top causes of death today.
What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?
During my internship, I helped implement a day camp for children with high risk factors for chronic diseases to promote healthier lifestyles through nutrition, physical activity, and wellness education. My most memorable moment was encouraging the kids to walk up Stone Mountain. Several children were afraid and believed that they would not be able to make it because of their weight. However, once we reached the top of the mountain they were all smiling and proud of their accomplishment. After the trip, the kids thanked us for believing in them and could not wait to try it again next year.
What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Being in the public health field enables you to meet so many people and it gives you a chance to experience opportunities you never knew were available. Therefore, try to gain hands-on experience in different fields of public health because you never know what you truly love until you try it.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
The biggest challenge that public health should be focusing on is sustaining collaborations and partnerships that can aid in addressing health disparities in our communities. Although political efforts try to improve society’s health, the needs of the community and the goals of health policies must be on the same page in order for the policies to be truly effective. Therefore, by sustaining collaborations that will integrate the characteristics and needs of the community into their goals, we can ensure that the implemented policies and programs will be accepted in the community and benefit future generations’ health.