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Profiles in Public Health


Alyssa Rentuza

MPH, Epidemiology, Vanderbilt University Institute for Medicine and Public Health

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health to me is not just the social, economic, judicial, medical, and biological factors that contribute to individual and community well-being, but also finding where we can contribute to and bolster the systems that support this well-being.

What inspired you to study public health?

I was inspired to study public health after learning about how much plays into a person’s health that we don’t typically think about, especially the sociological and cultural factors like gender or neighborhood.

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

Being able to use my knowledge of public health, such as the ten essential services, to inform my decisions as an activist and to educate myself and my loved ones during both the COVID pandemic and the movement for racial justice.


There are so many directions to take your public health career – don’t be overwhelmed, but try to take every opportunity you can to learn different perspectives and disciplines and see how you can work together to relate those new pieces of information to your own interests!

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

How the needs of overlooked populations may be different than what commonplace “public health truths” may preach – for example, do Pacific Islanders need different public health approaches than what has been developed for the Asian community based on the East Asian consensus or gold standard?

Find an Academic Program in Epidemiology, TIPH Student Ambassador