“There are a lot of reasons I chose to pursue a degree in public health, but one underlying factor is that my father graduated from this school (Paul Aasen, MS ’85, Environmental Health). While his background ultimately had an indirect influence on my path, as an undergraduate student I was drawn to neuroscience, a field I absolutely love. I like the mental health aspect of neuroscience, and I also like looking at problems through the lens of global health. At the School of Public Health I was able to combine those two interests to shape the next steps of my academic career.
Last summer I had the opportunity to get a start on my longtime goal of working with the World Health Organization (WHO) when I did my field experience in Geneva. I was in the health emergencies program, which was created in 2016 in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak of 2014. The job became even more relevant due to the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — all of a sudden I was engaged with the Ebola outbreak response at the international level.
Currently I’m working on mental health and psycho-social support. Mental health isn’t at the forefront right now for infectious disease outbreaks the way it is with natural disasters, armed conflicts, and refugee crises. My master’s project focuses on an analysis of mental health and psycho-social support considerations for infectious disease outbreaks, which is what I did at the WHO. In my MPH program, I’ve had a sort of “build-your-own-degree” experience, which has been really fun.”