#2020Trojan: Meet Eric Nagengast, Master of Public Health online program graduate

Department of Population and Public Health Sciences
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Department of Population and Public Health Sciences
Published
May 11, 2020
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Eric Nagengast earns his Master of Public Health with a concentration in global health.

Eric Nagengast with Malagasy surgeons as part of an Operation Smile mission in Madagascar. Pictured left to right: Raaika, Nagengast, Briand, Romain.
Eric Nagengast with Malagasy surgeons as part of an Operation Smile mission in Madagascar. Pictured left to right: Raaika, Nagengast, Briand, Romain.

Why did you choose to pursue your degree?

I am a surgeon with a passion for global health and global surgery. Five billion people in our world lack access to surgery, I want global health to be a significant part of my surgical practice because I want to be part of the solution to this global problem. I thought the degree would give me more expertise in order to help those most in need.

What has been your biggest accomplishment during your studies?

For my practicum I was able to work with Operation Smile. During my time with them I helped to revamp and improve their surgical outcomes program. I am now working with Operation Smile and Microsoft to utilize artificial intelligence to improve surgical outcomes across the world!

What’s an important lesson you learned?

In global health your context is always crucial. All locations, cultures, and individuals are different. In order to run successful programs you must first understand the context in which you are working.

What’s one of your favorite memories from your program?

In the ethics in global health course we had classmates and instructors from many different countries and backgrounds. It was great to have input from people with such diverse experiences. The diversity made the learning experience so much more valuable.

What will you miss most and why?

My classmates! The online MPH program had so many accomplished people from different backgrounds and specialties. I will miss hearing from them and working with them, but I am excited to see all they go on to accomplish.

What are you doing after you graduate?

I will return to my residency training in plastic and reconstructive surgery at USC.

What do you look forward to in your career path?

I look forward to helping patients both on an individual level and on a health systems level. There is so much work that needs to be done to lower disparities in health in our world. I just hope I can contribute in a meaningful way to making change for the better.

What advice do you have for future grads?

For the MPH candidates, I think it is extremely important to find an organization to do your practicum with that you are passionate about the work they do. The practicum is a valuable time to get hands on experience, and it may open doors to a career or further opportunities after graduation. If you enjoy the work you do the hard work you put in will be so much more effortless and rewarding!

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