Why Public Health?

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

Toria Isquith, MPH candidate, CUNY School of Public Health

I wanted more knowledge of policy formation and analysis so that I could become an effective advocate for reproductive justice through policy change. Individual interventions are essential but insufficient for real change. I am interested in moving the needle upstream to change the choices people can make in their lives and the degree to which we all can exercise self-determination.

Liza Morales, MPH candidate, CUNY School of Public Health

I grew up in the South Bronx where healthcare, especially mental healthcare, is scarce and less accessible. However, as a child, I was unaware of what I was missing, because mental healthcare was not prioritized in my community. Now, as an adult venturing into other communities, I see the type of healthcare that I lacked and reflect on how I could have greatly benefited from it in my earlier years. I have a strong interest in making sure that the community I grew up in is aware of the types of services that are out there and able to advocate for themselves so that the services are made available and accessible to them.

Bri Greco, DVM and MPH candidate, University of Missouri

I’m currently pursuing dual degrees with the aspiration to work within wildlife conservation. Zoonotic disease goes both ways. They threaten already vulnerable animal populations, and this threat is further exacerbated with an ever dwindling buffer between our wild spaces and the human domain. On the flip side, the purported etiology of COVID-19 exemplifies how ignoring human-animal interaction can negatively impact human health, as well. One Health recognizes that human, animal, and environmental health are not discrete, but inextricably entwined with each other. As such, knowledge in zoology and veterinary medicine are just part of the puzzle – understanding population health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and public policy are just as essential in the effort to protect and conserve our wild species. Applying the skills gained from both my DVM and MPH will allow me to understand not only the health of an individual animal, but how the surrounding world impacts the health of a species. Combined, this will allow me to make a greater impact in the work of wildlife conservation. 

Catherine Zaw, MD, MPH, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

I wanted to make an impact in medicine on a population level. So much of health encompasses systems that cannot be solely influenced working as a clinician. I wanted a better understanding of what else influences health and what my potential role in each area could be.

Vaughn Edelson
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