This summer, I had the unique opportunity to intern at the Desmond Tutu HIV/AIDS Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. At the time, the foundation was conducting multiple clinical trials for COVID vaccinations on top of catering to their regular influx of patients seen for routine care and preventative treatment. My time at the foundation allowed me to gain an understanding of how health care is prioritized in another country, and how public health efforts manifest under unfamiliar circumstances. Above all, my time in South Africa confirmed my love for the field of global public health (and came with some pretty amazing encounters from these gentle giants)!
Major: Public Health
Minor: Medical Geography in Global Health
Hometown: Islamorada, Florida
Why major in public health?
For me, public health was the perfect blend of science and sociology, which happen to be my greatest academic areas of interest.
What is most interesting about public health?
Definitely the intersectionality of public health with other disciplines! Public health is a cumulation of not only health factors, but environmental, social, and psychological factors all working in tandem to influence health outcomes for an individual or population. Studying how these different parts work together makes the field of public health one of infinite possibilities where there is always something new and exciting to explore.
Why did you choose UF?
Originally, I was torn between UF and another university when deciding where I wanted to pursue my undergrad. I ultimately decided on UF because of the vast opportunities in extracurriculars and research it had for undergraduate students going into healthcare and related fields. After my first few weeks here, I knew I made the right decision, and never looked back!
What experience at UF has been most influential?
The most influential experience for me would have to be participating in research alongside Dr. Elizabeth Wood to investigate attitudes and opinions of COVID-19 protocol amongst students in Greek life. This experience was one that really opened my eyes into the world of research, and the importance of understanding individual perceptions and feelings.
Do you participate in extracurriculars? If so, which?
I am currently apart of the LEAP mentorship club, Here’s to Her, Partners in Health Engage, University Scholars Program, and hope to be starting volunteer work at the Child Advocacy Center soon!
Do you have any jobs while in college?
What do you do? I don’t currently work during academic semesters. Thankfully, I am able to pick up waitressing shifts at a local café in my hometown during holiday breaks and throughout the summer.
What are your professional goals?
One day I hope to work for an agency/organization in the global health field that deals with program design and intervention for developing countries
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m a social butterfly, so if I have free time I usually always spend it hanging out with family and friends. I also love any kind of outdoor activities such as wakeboarding or hiking!
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Put yourself out there! It can sometimes feel awkward to email professors or attend a club meeting for the first time but I promise the gates of opportunity will slowly start opening the more your step out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to a variety of outlets!