Gloria Marfo is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Behavioral and Community Health with a specializtion in Special Populations.
What is/was your major and what year did you/will you graduate?
I will graduate in the year 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral and Community Health, specializing in Special Populations.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public health is the coming together of ideas and people in an effort to provide resources, assistance, and knowledge from the community to the community.
What inspired you to study public health?
I was inspired to study public health after a recent trip to Ghana, a country located on the West Coast of Africa. It was market day in Ashanti Mampong, and my sisters and I went to purchase a few items. As we waited to be served, I noticed a woman selling undergarments by my side. Sitting directly on the ground next to her was her son, wearing nothing but a loose fitting shirt. I was greatly disturbed by this scene. All I could think about were the various types of infectious bacteria the boy was being exposed to (I just came out of a semester of Microbiology, so it was all very fresh), and how the mother would have to spend a large portion of her earnings on treatments for the infections. I then began thinking about the possible reasons why she did not spare her son just one pair of shorts. It occurred to me that maybe she was not aware of that particular pathway of infection, or maybe (and most likely the reason) her business could not afford it. It was after that encounter that I decided that I would study public health when I came back to the States. I wanted to learn more about how incidents like the one I witnessed even came to be, and how they could be solved in existing cases and prevented from occurring in future cases.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
I think that the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on is increasing the capacity of women to achieve more and become successful. Women are the backbone of every society and I believe that increasing the capacity of women will have a ripple effect and increase the capacity of their children, families, and communities as time progresses.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I chose public health at UMD because of its proximity to Washington, DC and the many opportunities that come with that proximity. There are endless opportunities for experience in every field of public health just around the corner.
How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career goals?
Through interactions with professors and advisors at UMD’s School of Public Health, I have gained knowledge about and exposure to key issues in within the field of Maternal and Child Health, which have helped fuel my desire to uplift this special population. Classes such as Women’s Health have motivated me to explore the various avenues in which my future career can substantially impact the lives of women and children in the States and around the world. That search brought me to my current Global Health internship at Banyan Global, a development consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. My experience interning with this firm on their Saving Maternity Homes in Ghana project has opened the possibility of developing a career in international development, as it pertains to increased career opportunities for women and youth.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
My former supervisor at the University Career Center in the person of Mrs. Erica Ely, has had the greatest impact on me during my degree program. She has been there every step of the way upon my declaration of the major, guiding and advising me. She has given me many hours of her time and has taken extra time to introduce me to people and opportunities that have also impacted my career and degree program in positive ways.