Q&A: From public service to public health


Department of Population and Public Health Sciences

Publish date

February 7, 2018


In this Q&A, Joanna Garcia, a USC Master of Public Health student in the global health leadership track, discusses her experiences in public heath and why she is pursuing an MPH degree.

This student spotlight is courtesy of the Master of Public Health Student Association at USC.

Why are you pursuing an MPH? What makes you so passionate about public health?

After college, I was unsure of what path to follow so I decided to do AmeriCorps and I joined a program called Community Health Corps that focused on serving underserved populations around the country in different health-related settings. I served in the East Los Angeles Area for two years doing a lot of direct patient work like enrolling people in Covered CA, helping medical staff in a mobile vaccine clinic that traveled around LA and Orange Counties giving free health screenings and flu vaccines. This experience sparked my interest in public health and in pursuing an MPH.

What is your favorite part of the USC MPH program?

One of my favorite things about the program has been the people I have been able to meet and become friends with. I think we all have a unique background and in classes, during the discussions, this helped bring different perspectives and ideas together.

Describe an interesting public health experience you’ve had.

During my AmeriCorps service, I specifically worked convincing/ enrolling the “Young Invincibles” from several local universities into health insurance. It’s been one of the most rewarding [experiences] because after a busy enrollment period the student uninsured rate at some of the CSU’s dropped to under 10% and my team and I contributed to achieving that.

What is your future career goal?

For my practicum, I worked on a grant and I have really enjoyed everything that that entailed, so for my future career goals I would like to explore that area a bit more and do some project management or grants management.

Do you have a quote or motto you live by, or an inspirational quote that motivates you?

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

— By the Master of Public Health Student Association

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