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Our Student Interview Series is designed to inspire & encourage other students to pursue a career in the myriad sectors within global public health.
Rafael J. Veraza joins us today to discuss his Masters in Public Health education he received at Emory University in 2011.
He received his MPH under a NIH Fogarty fellowship through Dr. Carlos Del Rio, head of the Hubert Department of Global Health, after spending one year in Botswana as a Rotary International Fellow working on HIV/AIDS issues. At Emory he worked on a project studying Mexican migration and HIV/AIDS prevention working with Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. After graduation he accepted a job with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to work in Angola under the WHO and UNICEF. Currently he is studying medicine in Mexico City due to the high cost of medical school in the States and the difficult process of getting accepted as an international student.
#1 Why did you decide to pursue a MPH Degree?
Working with migrants in the US during my undergraduate program and helping with HIV/AIDS prevention projects under a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship in Botswana made me realize that a medical degree was not enough to be able to clearly understand the social determinants that influence health outcomes. I also realized that in order to implement evidence based prevention and health promotion programs, a solid background in epidemiology and biostatistics was needed. Lastly the aspect of social justice and human rights that a MPH encompasses, connected very strongly with my values as a future physician and now as a public health professional.
#2 What is your primary concentration within the field of Public health?
Prevention of infectious diseases in Global Health: HIV/AIDS prevention
#3 Please describe the MPH program at you are currently attending?
I studied at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health under the Hubert Department of Global Health. At Rollins the student is able to select a specific concentration and I chose Infectious Diseases. The first year is focused on learning the basis of Public Health, taking courses in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The second year is focused on the thesis or project and a great selection of excellent electives covering all aspects of Public health from environmental health to chronic diseases to behavioral health research.
#4 What do you like best about the MPH program?
The great aspect about Rollins is that the student is able to learn how to use a number of statistical analysis softwares and learn from great scientists from the CDC given its close connection to the School of Public Health. I also really liked the number global health opportunities that the school offers. I did my practicum at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico working on HIV/AIDS prevention and migration projects. Several of my colleagues travel across the globe to conduct their projects.
#5 Are you working/interning/training while obtaining your Degree? If so, how do you juggle both?
I was a full time student.
#6 What do you intend to do with your degree?
After completing my degree I applied to the STOP Polio Program part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative through the CDC and I was sent to work in Angola with UNICEF and the WHO on polio vaccination campaigns and planning national routine vaccination strategies.
#7 Where do you see yourself in the future making a difference in public health?
I’m hoping to finish my medical degree and become an infectious disease physician and use my MPH to implement and conduct clinical studies to improve treatment of infectious diseases and public health prevention projects. Currently as a medical student my MPH has allowed me to participate in a major public health prevention project preventing renal disease at the National Military Hospital in Mexico City.
Lastly I strongly believe that having a MPH will allow me to practice medicine not only by treating disease but also by focusing on prevention and health promotion for better health outcomes in my future patients.
Thank you Rafael, for sharing and participating in this interview. We wish you the greatest of success in your career in Public Health!
That concludes our interview!
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