Degree/training: Bachelor’s in Public Health Studies with minors in Spanish & Sociology

Career Aspiration: Public Health Policy and Equity/Leadership

Why did you choose your career path? I chose this career path as public health encompasses every aspect of one’s life and the importance of it. It is vital and critical to the overall well-being of societies. I realized that social determinants, like race, income, age, location, and more should not be the most critical thing to one’s health, and that regardless of those characteristics, every person should have quality access to care.

Where did you hear about a health career path and how did you enter this path? I did not hear about public health until I was applying to college. I came to Roanoke College with aspirations of being a nurse and healthcare administrator, and was unsure what public health was, but decided to major in it as a stepping stone to getting my MSN and MHA. It was not until my Introduction to Public Health class where I realized that my passion fell into the healthcare ecosystem as a whole and wanted to create policies that allow a more equitable, healthier society.

What advice would you give those who are guiding students into health careers? I would tell them to be understanding, that being an adolescent and a student is not the same anymore- our needs are different and the requirements of success in academia and adulthood are different. We have mass access to media showing us the problems in our world thus making planning and looking toward our future is scary and seems unimportant. We need to create hope in our students and help create goals. We need to inspire our students. Most importantly, we need to listen, understand, and adapt to our student’s needs.

Did you start to think about this career path in middle school? Yes, and no. I always knew I wanted to have a health career, but I was not aware of any degree that was non- clinical. In middle school, when they teach you about health careers, the only options they gave were: nurse, doctor, vet, or PA.

If you completed an internship, tell us about it. I have completed a few internships, but the most meaningful was the Virginia Department of Health Internship Academy. This was the inaugural year, so I found out about it through an alumni from Roanoke who worked at the department of health. There was an application that consisted of your resume and a letter of interest, and it was paid. I am still in contact with my mentors at VDH as I am presenting the work I did with them at a few different state conferences.

Describe any volunteer experiences that contributed to your decision to pursue training in a health career? The main volunteer experiences that led me to my decision were: volunteering at the nursing home in high school showed me that I wanted to go into healthcare. In college, I volunteer with the Bradley Free Clinic and assist in translating their health documents to Spanish for their Latinx population. This opened my eyes to inequities from language barriers. I now volunteer with Brandon Oaks Retirement Home where I get to create intergenerational events to promote socialization in both residents and college students. Each of these experiences gives me insights to different populations that will be affected by policies and shows the current inequities in healthcare resources.

What high school courses do you feel helped you? The dual-enrollment courses provided at my school, regardless of topic, helped me tremendously, especially when going to college. English dual-enrollment gave me writing skills and gave me insight on how to write like a college student. Anatomy dual-enrollment courses gave me study skills and assisted with test-taking.

What courses do you wish you took to prepare you for current health career training? I wish there was a class in high school similar to one I had my freshman year of college called “Exploring Healthcare.” In this class, multiple speakers in numerous health-related careers came and spoke about their jobs and journeys. This broadened my knowledge of possible careers within health, and was able to learn more about the policy side.