In one sentence, what is public health to you?
To me, public health is the science involved in improving the health scare system through a focus on health education, health promotion, and disease prevention.
What inspired you to study public health?
I grew up in Costa Rica and Honduras, which are two countries that are still developing in many ways, especially in health. I had always had an interest in the health field and dreamed of the day I could try to help the healthcare system in developing countries. I realized that through public health I would have the opportunity to learn how to assess and plan intervention to one day be able to help areas in need.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
Although our team of public health professionals is constantly working on improving equity, I do believe that health equity still is one of the biggest challenges that public health is facing. As an employee at a health clinic that serves mostly an immigrant, low- income population, I witness daily how different social determinants often place limits on people’s accessibility to care. We must continue working as an organization and public health team to continue planning interventions and expanding resources so everyone can have an equal chance at a healthy life.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I chose public health at UMD because I loved how the classes, faculty, and class mates resonated with my love for helping people and improving the health care system through health equity.
How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career goals?
My degree program opened my eyes to so many different career paths that I wasn’t aware of before college. I learned through my Community Health classes that I had a love for Community Health Education and wanted to work on providing cultural competent education for high risk populations. My degree program inspired me to look for positions that aligned with my passion and I was able to obtain the opportunity I have now as a Health Educator at Mary’s Center. My program also motivated me to continue my knowledge and understanding of public health by complementing my community health perspective with a clinical perspective.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
There are many great faculty members and experiences that impacted me in my degree program, but the internship experience probably had one of the greatest impacts. My internship taught me a lot about transferring classroom skills to the outside world by exposing me to different health needs and populations. This experience taught me how to use my creativity for different health education methods and how to adapt my information appropriately based on the population I am serving. These two skills have been crucial in my new job position and I a feel very lucky that the UMD School of Public Health prepared me so well.