Liz is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Community Health and is expected to graduate in May 2017.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public Health means helping people become the best versions of themselves, by preventing disease and promoting health through research, education, and community outreach.
What inspired you to study public health?
My grandmother’s fight against cancer inspired me to study public health. The doctors told her she only had a month left to live when they diagnosed her, but she maintained her positive attitude and never lost hope. The radiation and chemotherapy weakened her significantly, but she remained rooted in her faith and took charge of her health by exercising, eating healthy foods, and living life to the fullest for more than a year after her diagnosis.
Even though she passed away, her experience affirmed my belief in the impact of self-efficacy on health outcomes. Modern medicine has accomplished so much, but it is far from whole picture. Public health promotes the wellness of populations through a vast spectrum of interventions and initiatives, and that is something I definitely want to be a part of.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
Public health should focus and invest more in program evaluation. As important as it is to conduct literature reviews and develop policies, public health still has a long way to go in terms of assessing the effectiveness and sustainability of existing programs. We need to make sure we are reaching our target populations and that our messages are staying with them throughout their lifetimes.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I was drawn to the supportive community across all the departments. Both the students and faculty dedicate their talents and skills to making the undergraduate experience here at the School of Public Health nothing short of phenomenal. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the family atmosphere of this school.
How has your degree program at UMD's School of Public Health shaped your career goals?
The Community Health track has compelled me to think about pertinent health issues in my own community. Living in Prince George’s County, I often see the differences between availability and accessibility. Though there may be a sufficient supply of health resources available, they might not be properly distributed or communicated, especially to underserved populations. My observations, coupled with the knowledge and skills I gained from the Community Health program, have motivated me to pursue a graduate degree focusing on health literacy, health promotion, or health education.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on your during your degree program?
“HLTH325 – Poor in America: Health and Wellbeing” was one of the best classes I have ever taken. My book club group read “The Working Poor: Invisible in America” by David Shipler, and it opened my eyes to the overwhelming challenges faced by this neglected class of people and emphasized how poverty exacerbates health issues. While public health cannot eradicate poverty overnight, it can make a difference in the lives of people through free health screenings, nutrition workshops, and other programs. No contribution is too small when it comes to helping people achieve healthier lives.