Alexis Chavez is a first-year Maternal & Child Health MPH student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Learn more about her path to becoming a public health professional by reading her answers to the questions below.
How did you first become interested in public health?
[Alexis] I have always had an interest in pursuing a career in the medical field. During undergrad, I originally pursued a science major; however, a friend recommended some public health courses and after taking some, I immediately felt this was the route I needed to take. I love how public health incorporates the importance of advocacy, health promotion, and research in all aspects of healthcare and health. I began to see healthcare as more than just medicine. I learned it’s not just about the physiology of the body, but it’s about the self and identity of the person. It’s important to listen to a person’s story and experiences because it is what shapes them and contributes to their overall health.
What specific area of public health are you most interested in?
[Alexis] I’m really interested in the pediatric population. Growing up, I babysat a lot and I realized that I love being around children. I love their innocence. They are so bright, have so much potential, and I feel how they’re raised and brought up in this world is so important in shaping them and their future. Children are also vulnerable and I feel in order to help them we need to pay attention to them and provide genuine care. Ultimately, I really hope to go to medical school one day, and I felt doing my masters degree in Maternal and Child Health would provide me with so much more knowledge and genuine experience on the population I hope to care for someday.
Where did you attend undergrad and what was your degree/area of study?
[Alexis] I completed my undergrad at the University of Arizona. My major was public health with an emphasis in health promotion, and a minor in health and human values. I volunteered at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Tucson Children’s Clinic. I also had the chance to intern at the Children’s Postinfectious Autoimmune Encephalopathy (CPAE) Center of Excellence Clinic, which focuses on children who have neurological disorders (PANS and PANDAS disorders). I also interned at the Tucson Village Farm as an educator to educate kids on the importance of good nutrition.
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota School of Public Health?
[Alexis] After graduating from my undergrad at the University of Arizona, I knew I wanted to continue my education and grow before applying to medical school. While doing so, I was hoping to pursue my MPH degree fully online so I could still explore and engage in other opportunities, as well as prepare for medical school someday. When searching for programs, I came across the University of Minnesota (UMN) School of Public Health, which offered the Maternal and Child MPH program, fully online. When looking more into UMN, I really liked what their public health school represented and their commitment to providing equity and advocacy for people. The UMN School of Public Health was the only school that popped out to me because it had exactly what I was looking for. I am so happy and blessed to be able to pursue my MPH with Minnesota.
In what ways is the school a good fit for you?
[Alexis] I’m really enjoying all of my courses and learning from my professors. All of the courses are teaching me about topics I am genuinely interested in learning about and I get to learn specifically about the pediatric population which is enlightening. They have also piqued other interests for me, I actually just declared minors in health equity and epidemiology. Everyone is also so passionate which makes me feel much more motivated and dedicated to my work. The online classes are going great as well, I am happy to be doing everything online. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my choice in pursuing my MPH with Minnesota.
How are you coping with COVID-19?
[Alexis] Thankfully, everything has been pretty stable for me throughout the pandemic. Along with school, I am volunteering with some research for the Fosters Advocate organization online, I am a co-editor for the MCH National Trainee blog and my advisor, Ellen Demerath, has offered for me to help her with some research. I also work as a medical scribe for a pulmonologist, and so I see a lot of post-covid patients first hand. Every day is just a reminder of how real it is and how serious we should be taking it. It makes me realize that we all just need to be mindful of our actions, and who we are putting at risk, especially the older population. It’s just so important to wash your hands, wear a mask, and try to help slow the spread.