I have been thinking about writing this post for a while but I just haven’t had a chance. I keep getting the question.. What in the world will you do with a Masters of Public Health?
I wanted to give you a little background about what made me choose Public Health and what I plan to do with this degree. I hope to be able to post on a regular basis about what I have been learning about. This includes a wide change of topics including sugar sweetened beverages, childhood obesity, HIV prevention and testing, food deserts, etc.
But let’s back up a bit…
In the Summer of 2009, I traveled to Lesotho, Africa to study abroad with a groups of fellow faculty and peers.
Lesotho is a small country, embedded within South Africa, with a population of 1.8 million individuals and a life expectancy of 35.2 years; the culprit HIV/AIDS. I lived within a small village and worked with HIV positive children to provide sustainable projects for the Basotho people. Our group focused on providing sustainable projects that could be maintained long after we left their village.
Projects included: constructed double raised garden beds; planted close to 300 fruit trees; built an irrigation system for a garden; constructed chicken coops; built a green house; educational paintings for schools; and a host of other projects.
However, the most important trip of all.. was playing with the children.
One of the most influential moments of the trip was standing within the Little Angels (orphan compound) reading a handwritten sign that read: “Aids virus is living in my healthy body. But I still have the same feelings as yours. You don’t have to reject me because I have this disease. I am normal as everyone is. Love me and treat me equal. I didn’t want this, but it happened to me.”
I knew from that moment on.. both my future educational and professional goals had been changed.
My hope is to become involved within the HIV/AIDS prevention arena, which my masters degree will surely help me do. My specialization is in health behavior and health promotion, which can be used for a multitude of job positions. I think my dream job would be to work with HIV positive children to help them get the care that they deserve and teach adults about prevention methods. Ultimately I hope to return to Africa and possibly work for extended periods with these wonderful children. But it critical to remember that HIV positive children are throughout the world and even if I stay within the US I will be able to make a difference.
“The global HIV/AIDS epidemic is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response. In particular it requires solidarity — between the healthy and the sick, between rich and poor, and above all, between richer and poorer nations. We have 30 million orphans already. How many more do we have to get, to wake up?”