Written by Alexandra Dent, BS, MPH candidate in Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health, University of South Florida, and the Centene Institute for Health Education Scholar in the 2022 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program
When I attended the University of South Florida for my undergraduate work, I majored in public health with aspirations to continue into medical school. I wanted to have a non-science degree that would help compliment my medical degree in the future. However, as I was taking public health courses and learning about the different public health fields, I found my “sweet spot” in maternal and child health.
I became fascinated with the health inequities and health disparities that exist among pregnancy and birth outcomes for women of color, and I knew that I wanted a job in this field! Now, in my MPH program concentrating in maternal and child health and epidemiology, I focus all of my coursework on reproductive epidemiology and child development. However, the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track helped expand my knowledge even further, and inspired me to take on challenges that were not focused in the maternal and child health field. Learning about fine particulate matter or sustainable energy were not topics I largely knew about, but through these presentations, I learned that these topics affect various work fields, especially the maternal and child health field. These seminars aided my development on how to take these topics and principles and apply them to real-world situations in my future field.
I will be starting my public health work journey soon, and I truly believe that this program and my peers not only helped me to gain vast knowledge on different public health topics, but allowed me to network and connect with many individuals from whom I want to learn more.