Diane Ng was a research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for Dr. Sunmin Lee and Dr. Natalie Slopen and graduated with her MPH in Spring 2015. She is currently working as a research assistant at Westat.

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health is a collective effort with the intention of providing everyone the best opportunities for optimal health. 

What inspired you to study public health?

I had always been interested in science and health, and like many I started college in pre-med and eventually decided to do nursing. However, I realized that it was not going to be a good fit and that I was not meant for medicine, but that public health would provide the best of all worlds, allowing me to study health but in a broader sense with aspects that appealed to me more.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

Reducing health disparities - it's a broad topic, but many people experience worse health than others who are comparable except for some demographic aspect, so it's important to address why these health disparities exist and to create policy and interventions so that everyone has the best health possible. Public health is extremely influenced by social aspects, and so it will require addressing topics such as disadvantage, poverty, racism, and countless more in order to close gaps that exist in health and health care. 

Why did you choose public health at UMD?

I went to UMD for undergrad, and so I was naturally drawn back for graduate school based on my experience and aspects of the school that I liked, such as its diversity and reputation as a great research university. Specifically, there were advantages to the MPH program at UMD, such as smaller class sizes and the ability to work closely with professors. 

How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career and goals?

The MPH program has shown me that public health is so vast and that there are so many things that influence health; it's possible for everyone in a program to have different interests but still be relevant to the field. Based on this, I have aspirations to work for an organization that focuses on my particular interests, which are mental health and sexual minority populations.

What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?

My research assistantships. I have had the privilege of working for two professors, Dr. Lee and Dr. Slopen, and being a part of these research projects has given me hands on experience that has allowed me to learn and grow in a way that coursework alone would likely not be able to provide. 

Published Dec. 11, 2014