Public health student navigates passion through leadership

Larissa Puro
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Larissa Puro
Published
May 1, 2017
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Passionate about preventive medicine and quality healthcare, Sinthu Sathia Kumar knew what she wanted from her education: a 360-degree picture of public health.

As an undergraduate at University of California, Irvine, she studied public health sciences and learned the biology of disease. To get a better sense of healthcare she wanted to explore public health policy, so she chose to concentrate on that facet of the field in her Master of Public Health studies at USC.

“I realized that all change begins on the policy level,” she said—whether it’s improving a community’s access to healthier and affordable food options or changing how clinic administration runs its daily operations. She credits MPH Health Services and Policy Track Director Michael Cousineau, professor of clinical preventive medicine, “who constantly challenges the way we think about health policy and motivates me to keep researching for areas of improvement.”

A mentee and a leader

As her May 13 commencement approaches, Kumar reflected on her time at USC. Her biggest accomplishement, she said, was interning at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles My VOICE Adolescent Transition Program. With mentorship, she facilitated focus groups, co-authored research papers and helped implement a rheumatology transition clinic at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center to ensure continuity of care for adolescents living with chronic illness as they transitioned from pediatric to adult healthcare systems.

In addition to studies and work, Kumar served as president of the MPH Student Association, which allowed her to get to know her peers and faculty through social and service events. In just two years she gained lifelong friends and mentors, she said.

“Sinthu is one of our strongest MPH students,” said MPH Director Luanne Rohrbach,  associate professor of clinical preventive medicine. “She has been a stellar leader of the student organization, overseeing the board of seven officers, helping to organize innovative events for students, enhancing communications between students and faculty, and providing suggestions that will improve the program.”

The most important takeaway from her time at USC was “to never be afraid to network,” Sinthu said, referencing her internship opportunities, work experience and leadership roles, which arose from networking with fellow Trojans. She learned to pursue opportunities she knew she would excel at and learn from.

After graduating she plans to work as a healthcare consultant or a program manager to continue addressing quality in healthcare.

She urged future USC graduates to share their passions with professors and fellow students to gain friendships and find work and volunteer opportunities.

“I consider my two years in this program one of the most exciting times of my life,” she said. “It was great being around like-minded individuals who were so passionate and dedicated to healthcare.”

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