Why Public Health?

My family and I always imagined that I was going to grow up to become a doctor. I entered college with the intention of becoming a Biology major and completing all pre-med courses and staying on track to take the MCATs before my senior year of college. However, as life can be unpredictable, I think fate sent me a number of signs signaling that it wasn’t meant for me.

I started to see that there was poverty in so many facets of the world and after volunteering with the amazing nonprofit UBELONG, I found my calling. (interviews and videos linked at the bottom!! :)) I lived with a host family in Ecuador for three weeks and watched my host mother boil large vats of water every morning for her family and me to drink for the day. I watched and thought in awe at how fortunate I was, at how lucky most Americans are that we take our water source for granted, that New York City is world-renowned for our drinking water. Why do over 700 million people in the world still not have improved drinking water sources and what can my generation do to alleviate this epidemic? This is something I want to address when I pursue my MPH and go into public health.

It’s funny because sometimes I have a hard time explaining “what is public health?” because it is such a broad topic. I was lucky enough to attend Macaulay Honors College in my undergraduate career and participated in their Ivy League Graduate Schools of Public Health Admissions & Information Lunch event and hear firsthand from Admissions Directors from some of the top public health schools in the nation. The points that stood out to me the most were the way they differentiated between public health and medicine:

Public Health – population, prevention, and health promotion

Medicine – individual, disease, and treatment

After attending this information session, I realized that I had it wrong all along, and public health was the right choice for me. I don’t want to help someone individually, but I want to make a greater, large-scale impact. I want to prevent illnesses and epidemics from happening to populations rather than treat a cold or give an annual flu shot to a handful of patients. I want to be able to touch the lives of people in my community and inform and educate the world about the risks of smoking, obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc. and how they can make better, informed decisions to live healthier lifestyles!

I created this blog in my hopes to share with you my journey as I learn more about public health, as I pursue my MSPH degree at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and as I continue on to becoming a public health professional.

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The undergrad campus is definitely prettier, so I had to take this pic in front of the sign on this beautiful day!

If you’re interested in reading more on my experiences with UBELONG, I’ve documented my experience volunteering at a food bank in Mérida here and in a video interview, and my interview for teaching English in Ecuador can be found here!