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Isabel Griffin

Biological Scientist III (Bioterrorism and Epidemiology) at the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade

MPH, Epidemiology and Informatics

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

To me, public health is preventing the spread of disease, one case at a time.

What inspired you to study to public health?

My passion for public health stems from my belief that we are to treat others how we would like to be treated and I wouldn’t want to be hungry, drinking contaminated water or dying of a preventable disease.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

A little over two years ago, I was a part of a medical team that traveled to Coffee Bay, South Africa. While in this rural community, my team partnered with the health department and a local christian ministry to set up a temporary clinic to provide HIV, STD, TB and malaria screenings to over 3,000 men, women and children as well as provide these patients with the necessary treatments. After returning from South Africa I moved to Miami to begin earning my Master of Public Health degree. I was shocked to discover that the same poverty and disease that I saw in Coffee Bay were also in Miami. This experience is just one of many that drive my passion for protecting global health through public health surveillance and epidemiology.

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?

Don’t confine yourself to just one area of public health. Chances are that what you are interested in pursuing on your first day of graduate school won’t be what you are doing on your last day.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

Making sure every man, woman, and child has access to clean water. From a public health perspective, if people had clean water the number of enteric diseases would be reduced, children under five wouldn’t die from diarrhea and dehydration as a result of unclean water, and we would be able to prevent the further spread of diseases through hand washing.

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