In our video series “Why Public Health?” we ask Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students and alumni to talk about what drew them to the field.
- Carl Joseph Abeleda, MPH ’18 is pursuing work at a digital health company, where he hopes to develop technologies that increase access to care, reduce costs, and improve quality of care.
- Emily Arsen, MPH ‘18 hopes to explore how hospitals can improve patient care in order to improve long-term population health.
- Bibhaw Pokharel, MPH ’18 plans on pursuing a career in occupational health and is also interested in environmental justice.
- Jennifer Addo, MPH ‘16 and a medical student, has felt empowered at Harvard Chan to believe in herself and never give up on her dreams—and wants to instill that same message in young girls.
- Jacquelyn Hahn, MPH ‘16, PhD ’19, does research on health equity and understanding the way that factors such as gender relations, racism, and social class affect health and distributions of disease.
- After spending time in Cameroon, Margee Louisas, MD, MPH ’16 came to the realization that asthma “is truly a global disease.” As a Harvard Chan student, she is working on a pilot project to improve communication between school nurses and asthma care specialists in order to reduce the prevalence of the disease among inner-city school children in Boston.
- Christian Hoover, MPH ’23, is the lead author of a study linking higher rates of firearm licensure with higher blood lead levels in children. There are currently no federal or state regulations aimed at reducing or preventing lead tracking from firearms, but Hoover hopes that this and future studies will increase awareness of how lead dust from firearm use can impact children.
- Ajay Kolli, MPH ’21, decided to pursue a degree at Harvard Chan School to explore the intersection of ophthalmology and public health. Erica Kenney, Assistant Professor of Public Health Nutrition, has been very impressed by Kolli’s work. “It has really been a delight to watch him take all the tools he’s learned for analyzing epidemiological data and apply them to his project. He’s developed some novel analyses investigating the linkages between diet quality, socioeconomic indicators, and vision health that I think will be a great contribution to the field.”
- Monica Lazaro, MPH ’21, came to Harvard Chan School to learn learned about the complex world of health policy and the various stakeholders involved in crafting legislation in order to advocate for health policies that will help immigrants and others left behind. As a DACA recipient, she hopes to steer the national conversation away from policies that pit citizens against immigrants, and help the two groups find common ground in their shared humanity.
- Latifat Okara, MPH ’21, chose to come to Harvard Chan School to learn technical skills and policy ideas to help her build her company which provides recipes and nutritional advices for mothers. She hopes to eventually produce organic fruit and vegetable purees, and partner with a government agency to distribute them to underserved populations at a reduced cost. Okara has identified large gaps in nutritional counseling and access to healthy foods in her native Nigeria, and is delighting in the Harvard Chan School spirit to help think positively.
- Alicia Nelson, MPH ’20, is fighting on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, and uses the public health principles she has learnt ever day. “The quality of education I got at the School prepared me to participate in very high-level discussions on COVID response,” she said. A high point of Nelson’s Harvard Chan School education was her summer 2019 practicum, which gave her a chance to work on an issue that hit close to home.
- Shea Nagle, MPH ’20, wants to ensure that no transgender person has to avoid seeking healthcare out of fear of harassment or denial of care. Building research skills in population health as a Women, Gender, and Health concentrator in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nagle hopes to contribute to the body of evidence on improving health outcomes for transgender people—and on how to train physicians to do a better job caring for this vulnerable population.
- Juan Reynoses, MPH/MUP ’20, was one of the first graduates of the joint Master in Public Health (MPH)/Master in Urban Planning (MUP) degree program. The program blended his interests and fit his ambitions to improve community health through cross-disciplinary strategies. He hopes his training at Harvard can help remedy some of the disparities that persist across his beloved home state of California.
- Angel Rosario, MPH ’19, is determined to “dismantle and rewrite the systems that prevent health and social equity.” Looking ahead, Rosario plans to apply for a residency in general surgery. He says he will always be committed to public health, both domestically and globally, and to ending health disparities. “That is 100% my goal and that is not going away,” he said.
- Tiana Woolridge, MPH ’19, is on her way to achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Ultimately, she sees herself focusing less on direct patient care and more on working with youth-serving organizations to create health-positive environments for all children. She recalled being on a medical team that treated a homeless man with intravenous antibiotics for an infection, only to see him return with the same condition days later. “I knew that for this person, the real solution was housing,” she said. “That made me think about what I could do outside of the hospital to get at the root causes of disease.”
- Breanne Wilhite, MPH ’19, wants to promote healthy lifestyle interventions in children that are mindful of weight stigma and don’t exacerbate eating disorder behaviors. Since coming to Harvard Chan School in 2017 as a Gohar and Valad Valadian Fellow, Wilhite has learned tools for translating research into policy action. She worked on a number of projects with the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED), based at Harvard Chan School and Boston Children’s Hospital, including a study of the effects of digitally altered photos on body image and eating disorders, and as an advocate during STRIPED’s annual lobbying day in Congress.