"With the amazing opportunities provided by the College of Public Health and ETSU,
I was able to put theory into practice and experience the "real world" while still
Question: How did your education prepare you for the real world?
There's a saying in the Peace Corps that it's "the toughest job you'll ever love."
As a volunteer, you are placed in a completely different country, culture, language,
and work environment. However, my education at ETSU prepared me in a manner that I
believe I would not have had the opportunity to experience anywhere else.
Working in a rural hospital in the coastal region of Ecuador, I cannot help but find
similarities between these two populations about 3000 miles and a hemisphere apart.
In the Appalachian region, College of Public Health students have the opportunity
to study, work with, and impact the unique health challenges of the people in rural
Appalachia. Difficult access to care and basic resources, environmental and occupational
health issues, as well as health education disparities are just a few of the different
themes I worked on as an ETSU student that I find myself pulling on in my current
job as a Community Health Volunteer with the Ministerio de Salud Publica.
Additionally, my experience studying International Health in South Africa with Dr.
Jodi Southerland and participating in Alternative Spring Break at the Atlanta Harm
Reduction Center provided me with real world experiences that first introduced me
to the importance and impact of not just public health, but global health. With the
amazing opportunities provided by the College of Public Health and ETSU, I was able
to put theory into practice and experience the "real world" while still in undergrad.
When it came time for me to leave behind everything I knew and was comfortable with
in the US, and move to a different country for 27 months, I was grateful to have attended
ETSU and graduated from the College of Public Health. Peace Corps service has been
the most rewarding and challenging experience in my life, but my education in Public
Health is ultimately why I am here and how I am serving my new community.
Question: What is something you wish you had known when you were a student?
Diversity is the substance of empathy and empathy is the key to health professions
(public, global, community, and personal). Actively seek out people who look, think,
speak, or act different from you and seek out their stories, cultures, beliefs, and
struggles. Whether that be volunteering at a local organization, being a study partner
for an international student, attending Breakfast with the Expert or Leading Voices,
working in customer service, reading broadly from diverse authors, learning a new
language, or simply researching for your next midterm paper- make the effort to branch
out of your comfort zone and seek to understand before you judge. You will never be
sorry you and you will always be learning.
Any other thoughts?
Thank you to all the professors, staff, and faculty in the College of Public Health!
Also, the thought process that "I'll never use this class" is false. I have used every
single class I took! Even though I was a health administration concentration, health
administration affects community health and community health affects health administration!
The two go hand in hand to form public health and it's important to recognize those
connections to better understand the complexity and depth of health systems at home
in the US and the global impact of those systems, too.