How would you explain your discipline and/or research to those unfamiliar with the subject?
When asked about public health, I tell people it is a lot more broad of a subject than they might think, and that there are many aspects pertaining to it. I explain public health as improving health in communities, focusing on harm reduction, injury and disease prevention, and overall protecting the health of all individuals.
What do you wish your colleagues/friends/family knew about your work?
I believe everyone has the same goal to ensure good health in all people. I wish my friends and family were more aware of what public health is and why it is so important. When I tell people what program I am in, they always ask "what is that?". I find myself constantly explaining this term and what courses I am taking. In regard to current events, public health is more important than ever. I believe with everything going on these last few years people have come to understand more about public health and what it entails.
Have you learned/discovered anything during your experience at UNH that’s surprised you? If so, what?
I have learned that it's okay to not have everything figured out at this stage in our lives. It's important to take courses that you may not be familiar with, or interested in, because you never know what might surprise you. I took a course in my undergrad years called Germs 101 because it was said to be an "easy elective". After taking that course, I became interested in infection prevention and disease outbreaks. Fast forward 3 years later with COVID-19 taking place, I am so happy I took that course and learned as much as I did. Electives are one of the best ways to educate yourself on topics that may be relating to your degree, or may be completely unassociated, but that is what makes it enjoyable! Another thing I have learned during my experience at UNH is networking. UNH has a vast alumni network, especially in HMP, and for the last 3 years I have met some very successful people and have heard about their paths that took them where they are today.
What do you consider your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge as of right now is a work/school/life balance. I never had a job during undergrad, and now that I am going to night school I work full time throughout the day. It has been a difficult adjustment balancing everything, but I know it will all be worth it in the end.
What motivates you?
I am always striving to learn more and become further educated in my studies. Being optimistic about the future is something that has helped me stay motivated and excited for what's to come, knowing I will succeed in doing something I love. It also helps that the field of public health is always changing and healthcare is a growing field. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need for healthcare professionals like never before. It keeps me motivated that I will be making a difference in the world once I graduate from this program.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of getting myself back on track. Freshman year of college was an extremely difficult time for me. I felt lost and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I was discouraged about my studies and started to look more into the healthcare field. I realized this field had an endless amount of jobs to choose from and helping people was something I really enjoyed. I am proud of how far I have come since I graduated my undergrad, I am currently working as a social services specialist at a long term care facility, dealing with individuals in rehab, mental health services and memory care. Working in this role has given me the potential to grow and learn more about working with many different people, and give me more of an idea of how the business side of healthcare works.
Why did you choose UNH?
I was born and raised in New Hampshire, I wanted to go to a school I was familiar with that was far enough away from home, but close enough if I needed a break. I knew a few other people from my hometown who had chosen UNH, and I felt comfort in knowing I already had friends nearby going into freshman year; a scary and exciting time for everybody. I loved my time in undergrad so much that I decided to stay at UNH for my Master’s and I could not be happier with the professors I have had and the knowledge I have gained.
What do you plan to do with your degree?
Currently, I plan to graduate and work my way toward public health administration. Aside from the business side of healthcare, I have a passion for epidemiology, harm reduction and infection/disease prevention. I am excited to take more courses during this program and narrow down my interests.