What’s Your Public Health “Why”?

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We asked public health students and recent graduates to share their “why” – what motivated them to pursue this degree and profession. Here are more of their stories.

Rebecca Miller, MPH, MS, Case Western Reserve University

Throughout my life, I’ve witnessed many in my community go through health challenges and experience barriers to care without having the proper terminology to describe them. I pursued a career and degree in public health because the statistics were a part of my everyday life, but I was determined to be a part of the solution. I found my love for community-based participatory research (CBPR) and grew to understand the modes of prevention for at-risk communities, but I also gained a drive to examine the systematic nature of the social determinants of health within centers of influence and power. 

Rachel Ferster, MPH candidate, CUNY School of Public Health

During my undergraduate studies, I took a course in medical sociology that gave me insight into the world of public health. The course dug into the history of healthcare and the social and cultural influences inherent in providing medical care. I decided to pursue a degree in public health after shadowing at a dental clinic in Brownsville, NY. The clinic had a lot of low-income patients without health insurance, many of whom did not have the knowledge or resources to properly take care of their oral health at home. These patients only came to the clinic when they were in an intense amount of pain, and often irreversible damage had occurred. This real-world experience exposed me to the disparities in oral health and made me want to learn how to alleviate this gap. 

Tess Baldwin, MPH candidate, CUNY School of Public Health

I decided to get an MPH so I could get a better job. I started as a medical biller, but there is little opportunity for advancement, and my skills are going to waste. I wanted to get a higher degree and find a better career for myself.

Adriana Padilla, MPH; PhD candidate, CUNY School of Public Health

I went into my undergrad unsure as to what career I wanted to pursue. I started premed, but I knew that I didn’t really want to be an MD. I wanted a career related to both science and health but didn’t know what that would look like outside of a clinical setting. In a microbiology class I learned about epidemiology and have been in love ever since. I have an MPH in epidemiology and am now pursuing a PhD in Environmental Sciences, as it is more in line with my research goals.

Vaughn Edelson
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