Biostatistics-epidemiology grad reflects on her time at USC


Department of Population and Public Health Sciences

Publish date

May 1, 2018


Headshot_Doanvo_Namphuong-cropNamphuong Doanvo, a Master of Public Health graduate, spent her time at USC exploring the different facets of public health research, in particular, biostatistics and epidemiology. This aspiring public health worker was also chosen to address her fellow graduates at commencement. 

(Photo courtesy of Andrew Zaw)

Why did you choose your degree program?

I chose to pursue a master’s degree in public health because I wanted to learn about the different ways I can help improve health outcomes of marginalized communities that may not have the same resources as other communities. I was also interested in studying about social determining factors in certain diseases and why some diseases are more prevalent in certain populations than others.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the time you pursued this degree?

My biggest accomplishments within this program took place at my practicum site with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where I served as a research assistant on an epidemiology research team. We examined the differences in length of stay and cost of treatment for newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy—a type of brain damage caused by oxygen loss—at a children’s hospital compared to a non-children’s hospital. I delivered an oral presentation on our study at the 2018 Western Medical Research Conference in Carmel, Calif. This was my first time both attending and presenting at a scientific research conference! I am also currently helping with the process of finalizing the manuscript for submission to a scientific journal for publication.

What’s an important thing you learned?

I learned that change, be it policy or behavior, takes a lot of time and perseverance. Research is such a unique field in which the fruits of your labor can take many years to achieve. However, the contribution of research, regardless of how small it may seem, can make an impact on public health, and therefore is absolutely necessary.

What’s one of your favorite memories from the time spent in your program?

My favorite memories in this program were with the friends I made in my cohort. We managed to become a fairly tight-knit group of pals that have also acted as a support system throughout the program. My absolute favorite memory with them was attending the most recent homecoming tailgate where we all had the opportunity to relax and celebrate being Trojans.

What will you miss most and why?

I will miss the opportunities and resources that are available to USC students; there are so many resourceful professors and professionals to network with and learn from on our campus. The USC Graduate Student Government is also really amazing and constantly offers so many different opportunities for students to learn and grow outside of the classroom. For example, recently the Health Science Campus GSG hosted a cultural humility week where professionals from disciplines such as psychology and religious life hosted discussions on different methods to practice cultural humility as healthcare professionals and researchers.

What are you doing after you graduate?

After I graduate, I will be moving back down to San Diego and spend a little bit of time off to apply to jobs. I am hoping to find a position that includes a research component examining health outcomes and disease surveillance component. The field of public health is so broad that I want to take the time to find my passion within it. I will also be getting married this June!

What do you look forward to in your career path?

I am looking forward to working with diverse populations in my future career. I hope that my career path will allow me to serve the needs of people and find ways in which I can improve health disparities. I love that public health is so broad and encompasses many different areas of health.

What advice do you give to future grads?

I encourage all students at USC to get involved and take advantage of the networks that are available at our school; we have so many resources and opportunities available to us! I have really enjoyed my time here at USC, so another piece of advice that I have to students is to remember to enjoy this time period of your lives! The Master of Public Health Student Association works very hard to plan different activities and socials that are not only fun but great opportunities to network with your peers! And lastly, keep the fire burning!

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