Learning about Ebola in my high school microbiology class while the world news reported on the tragedy of the 2014 West Africa outbreak first sparked my interest in the field of public health. It felt surreal to be sitting in a classroom in Iowa while frontline workers were tirelessly fighting such a scary disease with little to no resources in rural Ebola treatment centers. Studying public health as an undergraduate student only opened my eyes further to the idea of prevention and preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks and other public health crises pushing me to pursue a graduate degree. From my initial interest in high school to graduating with my Master of Public Health concentrating in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness from Saint Louis University my passion for the field has continued to grow.
My concentration provides me a unique background to work in an increasingly essential intersection of public health and emergency management. Public health recognizes the influence of social, political, and institutional structures on health and allows me to tap into my many interests while striving to improve the health and wellbeing of all people. During my time as an ASPPH/CDC fellow I plan to explore my interests in public health emergency preparedness and response while building valuable skills to bring into my future career as a public health professional.
As an ASPPH/CDC fellow I will be joining the Division of Emergency Operations under the Office of Readiness and Response. The CDC Ready Responder Program is a new initiative to promote the agency’s workforce development and emergency response training. My initial focus will be evaluating findings from focus groups with subject matter experts in various responding roles to assess readiness and identify gaps in staff preparedness. Through mentorship, training opportunities, and continued coordination I will work to advance general staff and discipline-specific preparedness to respond to public health emergencies before they occur. I am excited by the opportunity to connect with CDC employees in a multitude of specialties and work to enhance the CDC workforce readiness for public health emergency response.