Maria graduated from Simmons College in Boston, MA in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and Communications. She has spent the past three years working in the US House of Representatives where she continues to learn the legislative process. Maria is joining the MPH in Public Health Practice and Policy (PHPP) program to specialize in healthcare policy and learn the skills to analyze, develop and advocate for policies to improve health and reduce illness in the United States.
What is your major and what year will you graduate?
I am starting the MPH - PHPP program fall of 2016 and hope to graduate in spring of 2018!
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public Health is the study and practice of creating systems that promote health and prevent illness in our communities, workplaces and homes.
What inspired you to study public health?
I began working in government during the first stages of implementation of the Affordable Care Act and I saw first hand the challenges and successes associated with such a major piece of federal healthcare legislation. I was inspired by the potential we have to improve the health of our nation through good policy on the federal, state, and local level. However, we certainly don’t need a many-thousand page law to improve health and prevent illness. What inspires me most about public health, and why I am so excited to join the field, is the positive impact we can have on our communities by making even small changes in law or practice, and advocating for effective policies at all levels.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
An exorbitant amount of money is expended treating preventable chronic illness. I believe that we can find ways to reduce the financial, social, and personal cost of these diseases through effective primary care delivery and patient education efforts. Of course, this will take an enormous shift in current delivery models, and I believe we need to communicate the importance of this shift effectively to policymakers and stakeholders so that our systems can more effectively empower individuals to maintain health and prevent illness.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
The MPH in Public Health Practice and Policy program at University of Maryland is one of a kind. During my graduate school search, I found no other programs that allowed me access to such well-respected professors and course material while actively continuing my career. In this program, I have the flexibility of working full time while I learn how to be an effective public health professional through top-notch coursework and instruction. The PHPP program not only accommodates my work schedule, but also views it as an advantage and a learning opportunity.
How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career goals?
The MPH-PHPP coursework really anticipates my needs and career aspirations. Although I’m just starting the program, I can already see how each course will be applied to real scenarios in a professional setting. These skills will certainly be assets when taking my next career step.