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Profiles in Public Health

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Vanessa Vassall

PhD, Public Health - Health Promotion & Disease Prevention

1. In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public Health is empowering people to take their community’s health into their own hands.

2. What inspired you to study public health?

Public health is an art and a science. It focuses on trends in health issues which can be addressed through creative means. Public health places people, families and communities at the center of solutions. And I believe in people.

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

As a CDC fellow, I had the rewarding experience of responding to the Ebola Pandemic of 2014. I had the opportunity to screen families traveling between the African nations most impacted by the pandemic, providing them with comprehensive symptom monitoring information and resources. The personal interactions in our health education sessions really helped decrease their fears. In Global and International Health, patience and compassion go a long way.

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

When deciding your career, first ask yourself, “What are the problems I want to solve and WHY?” Then, “who’s lives do you want to improve and HOW?” Be creative, focused and remain optimistic!

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

Health education and health literacy.

Find an Academic Program in Health Promotion and Communication, TIPH