Why did you decide to pursue a career in public health?
I've had a love for science since I was little, but my true calling has always been a career in social justice. Once I learned more about the social determinants of health and how public health research and policy can help advance equity, I knew public health was that unicorn career path where my interests in science and social justice could co-exist.
How did the GSU School of Public Health prepare you for your career?
There are many things I could point to, but the focus on a practice-based education, rather than strictly a theory-based one, really stands out. The professors made a concerted effort to help us understand what it's like to actually work in—not just study or research—the field of public health. The practicums and assistantships are obvious examples, but I also learned so much from the professors sharing their real-world experiences.
What advice do you have for students interested in public health?
If you're not in a health-related field right now, don't let that stop you! I was always struck by the variety of backgrounds that my classmates had and how much that variety really enriched the learning experience. I found the same thing to be true when I worked at the CDC after getting my MPH. Your unique background is an asset!
What advice would you give to current public health students?
Don't be afraid to explore the field of public health. There are so many different paths you can take, and you may find one that is a better fit than you originally thought. I came to GSU certain that I would work in adolescent health, but found a love for the intersection between environmental health, climate change and social justice, which is what eventually led me to my current career in Congress.
What’s your favorite GSU SPH memory?
Definitely defending my thesis and watching my friends defend theirs. On one hand, it was obviously the end of a not-so-fun, sometimes learning-the-hard-way process. But on the other, it was that culminating moment where we could finally prove everything we had learned and share more about the parts of public health that inspired us to choose this field.