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PHD, Public Health, African-American, Epidemiology

January 3, 2013

I have reached a point in my professional and volunteer career where I feel I will quickly exhaust every avenue of promotion and challenge at my current academic level.  Moreover, in order to bring my personal and professional plans to fruition, I will need to immerse myself in a rich academic program, specifically Public Health, focusing on Epidemiology.  The School of Health Sciences curriculum will equip me with the requisite tools to conduct quality, relevant research that focuses on contemporary Public Health issues, a field that I have a personal affinity and passion for addressing.

Post-graduating, I anticipate contributing to the ongoing battle that is being waged against diabetes, obesity and other diseases that are at epidemic levels.  By working in a research capacity, I can being viable, sustainable solutions to the community, and publish my findings in order to contribute on a much larger scale, not just for the field of science, but the amelioration of lives worldwide.

 My interest in the field of Public Health, and specifically Epidemiology is a deeply personal nature.  Growing up, a black woman in poverty-stricken Mississippi, I have seen first hand the perpetual cycle of ineffective or absent public healthcare policies, and people in the grips of many avoidable and treatable conditions, compounded by lack of access to preventative health services and education, or quality, compassionate care.  Moreover, my own fight, one that I have won, with type-2 Diabetes has led me to want to do the same for others, the people I grew up with, my community, those that believed in me, and supported me in the pursuit of my dreams.  I cannot go forward without remembering where I came from, and giving back to the best of my ability, knowledge and heartfelt compassion.  In this golden age of equal opportunity, it is time to bring equal access to healthcare, in a system that I believe can do better.

The interest I have in the Public Health, Epidemiology program stems directly from the amazing work I have privileged to be a part of as a volunteer at the Chiro/Elite Natural Health and PainCenter, working under Dr. XXXX.  Working closely with Dr. XXXX has inspired me to develop myself further, to continue similar work combating obesity, a condition that complicates and compounds health conditions, increasing the time it takes patients to heal and decreasing survival rates.  I have seen incredible results by Dr. XXXX’ weight-loss program that I have aided in the development of, incorporating nutritional and behavior modification, a combining of elements that ensures and maintains positive health outcomes. 

 Participating in the “Sweet Science’ program, I have overcome my own type-2 Diabetes.  More importantly, working in the laboratory and interacting with clients has confirmed that I am on exactly the correct path.  No other work has, nor ever could, bring me the same level of spiritual or professional satisfaction.  And now, I go forth to continue the work of influencing healthy lifestyle choices, promoting longevity, and an excellent foundation from which to design other, more advanced public health projects.

 Even before entering into undergraduate education, I excelled in the sciences, mathematics, and had a keen interest in human physiology.  Working with my high school physics teacher – also a practicing physician – along with two professors at university, a university I completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I quickly began my research assistant work, building and reinforcing my lab and research acumen, confidence, and technical vocabulary.  At university, I was heavily involved in research work in the area of DNA sequencing, a research area I came to enjoy completely, igniting my passion for further research experiences.  Indeed, my professors recognized my enthusiasm for the work, and I was one of only three students to be selected from the student body to conduct the research, a privilege and honor I took very seriously.  Our work was later presented at the Mississippi Academy of Science, a source of great pride for me, bringing further validity and inspiration to my life’s direction.

 Earning a scholarship to attend XXXX University, and a good relationship with the professors made DSU a natural and logical choice.  As with many freshmen, my first year was a struggle, adjusting to the demands of the scholastic program, balancing between my academic and volunteer work.  Simultaneously, I was maturing as a student, a process that by the time I was a graduate student was complete, as was my focus on my future goals.  Lab courses kept my passion for research alive, and my skills practiced, leading to biomedical research, a pursuit fueled by my fascination with human physiology and anatomy.  Overall, my academic path has maintained a conceptual continuity, focusing on healthcare and disease-related issues. Since high school, along with my own academic and professional research, I have been involved in research assistant work, along physics professors, and physicians. 

 Currently, I am working for the US Department of Agriculture, conducting agricultural research as a biological research technician.  My work has focused mainly on drift studies, monitoring chemical applications in the field and providing educated recommendations for use in the agricultural community.  Throughout my time with the USDA, I have seen an increasing causal link to the field of Public Health, questioning how the lives of people living in agricultural or rural communities are affected by the research.  Moreover, the questions spring to mind, should these populations consume specialized diets to offset hormonal changes that are being influenced by chemicals used in the environment.  How are environmental influences responsible for, and to what extent, obesity as it relates to lifestyle choices in such communities?  The groundwork for this research and the questions it raised for me was laid in my work at MississippiStateUniversity’s School of Veterinary Medicine, a research experience that found me analyzing the amount of herbicide and pesticide residue in pond-raised catfish.

 Even as a little girl, I have wanted to become a doctor.  As I grew, I expanded my knowledge of science, increased my exposure and refined my scientific research interests to what they are today.  Volunteerism has been a constant feature in my life, working at hospitals and schools whenever I could, thoroughly enjoying the interaction with multidisciplinary teams as well as patients and students.  I came to want to understand their unique life challenges, noticing common threads, and was left wanting to positively contribute to the lives of many people.  Even at home, I have always been by the bedside of sick family members, and was frequently turned to for my opinion; it was a role I took on willingly, conducting hours of research and talking to medical professionals, earning me the nickname “Dr. XXXX” by friends and family.

 My professional work involves daily agricultural research, combined with being an IT liaison for my unit, handling IT maintenance, set-up/installation, and user support.  The working environment has developed my ability to adapt quickly, to switch fluidly between my research and IT work, adapting quickly and thinking on my feet in an environment that lends itself perfectly to ongoing learning.

 As alluded to and expanded upon above, I currently volunteer at Chiro/Elite Natural Health and Pain Center working closely with the owner, Dr. XXXX.

 Working for the Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation at XXXX University, utilizing my heritage and connection with the community, impressed upon me the need to encourage young People of Color to consider careers that lack minority representation, namely science, math, engineering and technology fields.

 Having been involved in multidisciplinary research teams, and volunteering at hospital and schools, has developed my interpersonal abilities, cultural competency, self-efficacy, self-esteem and comfort in my own skin.  More importantly, my life experiences, rising above a socio-economically depressed background, has instilled in me a heartfelt compassion for people in similar circumstances, and an imperative need to help them help themselves, empowering them with the opportunities and tools to make it happen.

 Working and volunteering in demanding atmospheres has given me a calm disposition, even when under great pressure.  It is this ability that will aid me greatly in my own research work at Walden, taking on the rigors and demands of the curriculum with relative ease, an ability born of good time management and organizational skills.

 On a personal level, I do all I can to raise people’s self-esteem, and self-efficacy, gently pushing them towards viable options for their circumstances.  Having been involved in so many different volunteer, academic and professional situations, I am able to interact and communicate effectively with people from all walks of life, creeds, cultures and backgrounds, and even have veritable strangers confide in me or seek advice, usually to a health-related matter.

 After careful research and consideration – a total of three years – I have found that XXXX University satisfies all of my needs for an educational experience that combines the breadth and autonomy of curriculum I want, combined with the convenience of online education.  I was thoroughly impressed with the online presentation and prompt attention I received after indicating my interest to the school.  XXXX University represents a diverse array of students, faculty and research areas, and a quality that ensures a dynamic and stimulating educational environment.  The School of Health Sciences provides a Public Health program that is truly inspiring, fits my personal interests, ambitions and goals, with coursework that is relevant and involved.

 I look forward to my time with Walden and thank you for your consideration.

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