You’re majoring in public health?

What’re you going to do with that? It’s a question that, presumably, most public health majors are asked. What am I going to do with my public health degree, you ask? Perhaps I’ll work in public health education, teaching strategies to men, women and children on how to improve their quality of life through health and wellness programs. Perhaps I’ll enter the field of research and epidemiology, tracking the spread and pattern of diseases worldwide. Maybe I’ll go into health law and legislation, advocate for regulations to ensure a safer environment for my community. Whichever path I choose, earning a degree in public health is the first step to get me there.

Instead of saying all that, I normally just mumbled a response about wanting to help others. Not knowing, at the time, the various paths that this degree opened the doors to. The motivations for a public health professional may originate from a sense of compassion and humanity for others. As you learn more and more about this field, it becomes clear just which avenues can be taken.

As an undergraduate student, I was buried in doubt about which major to select. My university offered 62 different bachelor degrees and I was hesitant about making the big decision of choosing one. Judging by the number of major change forms I submitted to the administration department, anybody could tell that I was indecisive at best. I started my academic journey wanting to major in business or english. Through much consideration, I officially marked myself as a physical therapy major; I then switched over to the ever-popular nursing program, and then changed my major again to speech-language pathology. Time was running out for anymore changes and I finally felt comfortable with the SLP degree.

…I realized I desired freedom. I desired flexibility. A degree that allowed me a variety of paths to take. I promptly dropped all my classes and selected my major to be public health

I had all my classes set up for my new major and would begin my junior year in the Fall. During the summer I woke up one morning with a harrowing realization. Once I choose this degree program, I would have the opportunity to enter a field that offered me one job title. One choice. It was then that I realized I desired freedom. I desired flexibility. A degree that allowed me a variety of paths to take. I promptly dropped all my classes and selected my major to be public health, with a concentration in health administration. As I looked at the course requirements, I knew this was the program for me. My indecisiveness was over. I made the right choice.

After I completed the program in 2012, I was faced with another decision: Graduate school. Though I dabbled with the thought of going to graduate school for rehabilitation science or human sexuality studies, I knew the next step for me was to apply for the Master of Public Health (MPH) program. I entered the part-time, 3-year MPH program at Fresno State University in 2012. My penchant for education and appetite for learning sparked my interest in the private sector of public health. Specifically, the development and delivery of drugs and medical devices to the public. I found myself researching graduate certificates in regulatory science and clinical trials management. A simple calculation helped me determine that taking several classes past the certificate could earn me a master’s degree in this field. The field of regulatory science appealed to me for its potential to improve and build upon public health principles. Breakthroughs in the branches of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices have the ability to help in preventing, diagnosing and treating disease and the advancement of regulatory science ensures the safety and effectiveness of products being brought to market. For these reasons, I applied to Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices last year and was accepted to the program.

I am completing both programs concurrently and have found that, although this contributes to an increase in gray hair for me, both programs complement one another and create a perfect blend of academia for me. It is my desire to contribute my best to the field of regulatory science and public health and see where this path will lead me. You can follow me in my journey of being a graduate student MPH program each week on this site.