Meet our students and alumni
Amanda Reed, MPH, 2018
Why did you choose the WSU MPH Program?
I chose WSU for the "three P's": practicality, people and price. WSU's MPH program is accredited and the majority of the classes are held in the evenings. The practical arrangement of being able to work in a related field during the day and having the opportunity to apply knowledge from class was a huge draw for me. Furthermore, public health is all about people. With one of the major pillars of Public Health being health equity, I believe it is important to be immersed in the environment of the population you are studying to better develop empathy and understand context. Finally, the cost per credit hour is more economical than other public health programs (even ones that are not accredited).
What have you valued about the MPH Program?
What I valued most about the MPH program is the interdisciplinary approach students and professors have to public health problems. I have had the opportunity to work with future social workers, physicians, genetic counselors, and epidemiologists. It is inspiring witnessing how various disciplines can offer their expertise to approach public health issues.
How has the MPH Program helped you in your career? What are your future career goals?
The MPH program prepared me to apply my analysis skills in practical settings and translate my practicum experience into full-time employment. My ultimate career goal is not a position, but rather working in tandem with communities and lifting up future generations who are inspired to improve social conditions. I plan to work towards showing more examples of resilience and triumph related to public health problems.
Maliha Hussain, MPH, 2018
Why did you choose the WSU MPH Program? What brought you to WSU and to public health?
I chose the WSU MPH program because it was one of few accredited MPH programs in Michigan. I liked that WSU was located in the heart of Detroit and emphasized service learning in its curriculum. My interest was further solidified after my initial meeting with Dr. Voytal, the MPH Program Director. I could sense her true commitment to public health and desire to develop students who were well-equipped to tackle the health challenges of tomorrow.
How did your MPH courses prepare you for your career?
My MPH courses provided me with the knowledge, skills, and professionalism that are translatable to many organizations. The courses built foundational knowledge while the projects/practicum built practical knowledge, guided by direct interaction with the community. These experiences were integral to finding my passion for research, policy, and minority health. There were ample opportunities for group work - I think this was great preparation for what the real job world looks like, dealing with different backgrounds, and personalities. I also found the small MPH class sizes were helpful in getting to know classmates and professors. I had an incredibly positive experience with all of the faculty and found them to be helpful, responsive, and caring.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
I work at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I am completing the HRSA Scholars Program, which is a pathways program for recent graduates to enter into the federal government. I am currently working at the Office of Women's Health (OWH), helping with cross-cutting efforts to improve the health and safety of women and girls across the lifespan. I will be rotating to the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) to work in the Office of Quality Improvement, to help standardize quality measures and strategic planning to evaluate health outcomes for health center patients. The best part of HRSA is that the work is so mission-driven - to serve those that are medically vulnerable, geographically isolated, and uninsured.
Do you have any advice for current MPH students or those thinking of pursing an MPH degree?
My advice to current MPH students is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, sign up for the challenging courses, take initiative, and build translatable skills. I encourage everyone to get to know their faculty and express interest in any independent projects. Most faculty are willing to help build your CV, if you express interest and do hard work. Be open to receiving feedback and work together to apply what you're learning in class to an interest of yours.
My most transformative experience was completing the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in my second year. I was able to take everything I was learning in class and make it relevant to my project addressing an unmet community health need. It not only made me look more professional to the organizations I was working with but it consolidated the knowledge and skills that have remained crucial to my work today. I would also say take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way (even if you're worried about being busy! Time really flies by during the program). I would also emphasize the importance of networking and staying in touch with those contacts. The way I heard about the job at HRSA was by emailing random people who did public health work in Washington, D.C. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there because most people shared your experience early in their careers and they understand the struggle. Be open to communicate, reflect on what you like and don't like, and put in the hard work. I promise it works out!
David Cicala, MPH Student
Why did you choose the MSW/MPH joint degree program?
Like a lot of undergrads, I started out premed. I studied Neuroscience in hopes of becoming a doctor. I had been around medicine all of my life and wanted to help save lives. After some health issues and difficulties with those classes, I realized I did not want to pursue medicine. I took an introductory public health class my junior year and the ideas of self-efficacy and using intrinsic goals and motivations really spoke to me.
I pursued a joint MSW-MPH degree because knew I wanted to work in a public health setting but wanted to develop social work skills to address health issues and disparities. I have faced very difficult health issues, but overcame them through my good support system and access to health care. I noticed a lot of people did not have these things, so I wanted to advocate for those who don't have the privilege I did.
What do you value about the WSU MSW/MPH experience?
The things that I value about Wayne State are the opportunities and the faculty looking out for my best interests. Wayne State professors will reach out with resources they think would be valuable or interesting to me; everyone is willing to help. I've also been able to work in interdisciplinary settings, with medical, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutrition students. This is so important for diverse healthcare settings. I've been able to use lessons learned in public health courses such as Health Program Evaluation and Epidemiology in my social work internship. With so much to learn in each program, the MSW-MPH joint degree program lets it all come together for a fulfilling experience.
What are your plans after graduation?
I'd love to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but I also want to work where I can have the most impact on health equity in the US.
Fatima Eid, MPH Student
In 2019, MPH student Fatima Eid was selected as one of 14 Detroit Albert Schweitzer Fellows hosted by Authority Health. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program is a one-year interdisciplinary, mentored fellowship program for Detroit-area graduate and professional degree students focused on health-related community service and leadership development. Fatima's fellowship project will explore the use of creative writing and creative expression as a therapeutic intervention with at-risk youth and those currently in the juvenile system. She is being mentored by MPH faculty Patricia Morton, PhD.
Why did you choose the WSU MPH Program?
I choose WSU for undergraduate because I wanted to explore Detroit more and wanted to expand by own horizons beyond what I have been used to! It was affordable, and because I enjoyed my experience during undergraduate, and I wanted to continue working within Southwest Detroit, which is one community I am very passionate about!
What have you valued about the MPH Program?
What I value most about the MPH Program is the professors who are super helpful and really want to promote your growth, as well as the courses that engage us with communities outside of the classroom. I really think it is essential to get experience beyond the classroom and I love that the MPH program has classes that allow me to do this.
What are your career goals?
My career goals are to continue as a professional in the medical field focusing primarily on community health and global health. I really want to focus on public health projects that decrease health disparities and create change. In addition, I really want to teach in the future given my passion for education.
Tell us about your Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Project.
I am still speechless that I have been awarded the fellowship. I am so excited and nervous at the same time but most importantly, I feel so grateful. I was inspired to apply for this fellowship by WSU MPH Alum Maliha Ahmed, who was awarded this fellowship two years ago. I thought it was such an amazing opportunity to be able to implement a community service project addressing a specific health issue. This fellowship is a mixture of everything I love doing, which is policy, working within the community, and health. In addition, I really want to make my experience in graduate school a great one by taking on opportunities that are available to me - I find this to be essential!
My topic is "Using Creative Writing and Creative Storytelling as a Therapeutic Tool for At-risk and Juvenile Justice Youth." I've worked with youth since I started college, helping them achieve their goals and grow into the smartest individuals they are capable of being. My current position working with youth in the Juvenile Justice System also inspired me to do this project. It was an eye opener to learn that youth endure many experiences that I never knew were possible. I love to write and writing can really be used as a therapeutic tool - I hope to use lyric deciphering and cultural prompts so the youth can see writing as essential and relevant to their lives.