Mary Jung completed her MPH in epidemiology in Spring 2013. She is now a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology and a graduate assistant in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
What is public health to you?
Public health to me is the promotion and maintenance of health and well-being for all. I like to follow the World Health Organization’s definition of health, which is inclusive of “physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
What inspired you to study public health?
My initial interest in public health was sparked during my undergraduate years when I took a few introductory courses in the SPH. I was amazed by how the impact of many public health efforts could be seen all around us, whether we drink fluoridated water from the tap or strap on our seat belts as we get into the car. I was fascinated by how public health influences our daily lives. I am a strong believer that one of our most valuable assets in life is our health, and I was drawn to how the field works to protect and improve the health of communities.
I became interested in epidemiology, specifically, due to my desire to promote changes that will improve the health and quality of life for all people. In order to bring about such changes with often limited resources, I realized the important role that epidemiology can play to provide of evidence-based methods.
What are you most passionate about?
I am motivated by my desire to make a difference in our community. My current research interests include health disparities, cancer prevention and survivorship, as well as social determinants of health. I would like to conduct research that can help eliminate health disparities and that can translate into policies that will assist underrepresented and underserved populations. I am passionate about making a difference and giving back to the public through practical, effective, and sustainable programs that will help to strengthen communities.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I chose public health at UMD because I knew that the School of Public Health (SPH) would well equip me with the knowledge and tools to help me grow personally and professionally to became an epidemiologist. This is my seventh year at UMD and what continues to draw me towards our university is the rigorous education that it provides. From UMD, I received both my BS in Biology (with a specialization in physiology & neurobiology) as well as my MPH (with a concentration in epidemiology). The SPH has provided me with the opportunity to learn and work in a multidisciplinary setting. As we in public health face multifaceted issues, I have come to realize the need for and importance of working in interdisciplinary teams. The UMD SPH offers so many opportunities for collaboration across schools as well as departments. Moreover, the SPH faculty was another deciding factor for me. The mentorship and guidance from my advisor, Dr. Sunmin Lee, and the individualized attention that I receive from other faculty has been incomparable.
What person or experience has had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
Under the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Sunmin Lee, I have worked as a graduate research assistant in the SPH for about 3 years. Through my assistantship, I have had the opportunity to develop and enhance my skills as a researcher. I have gained hands-on experience in developing culturally appropriate education materials for a breast cancer intervention program, assisted in organizing community advisory board meetings, helped to conduct training for lay health workers, as well as conducted key informant interviews about colorectal cancer prevention. Furthermore, as a research assistant, I have worked on collaborative projects with research team members from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on hepatitis B and liver cancer prevention projects.
In addition, I had the opportunity to intern at the National Cancer Institute, where I was able to gain experience with large data sets and learn about working within a public health agency. The UMD SPH offers a prime location near many of the esteemed public health organizations in the region and country.
Published Dec. 11, 2014