I’ve been meaning to post at some point this fall to celebrate a decade in public health. I figured today–December 1st, or Worlds AIDS Day–is the perfect day to do it, since HIV/AIDS education is what sparked my interest in public health in the first place.
When I was a junior in high school (more than 10 years ago), I joined a peer education program through the Fresno County Health Department. It involved an intensive retreat in the mountains to learn the ins and outs of the virus and everything we needed to know about transmission and prevention. And then for the remainder of the year, I went from classroom to classroom to educate my peers.
It was wonderful. I loved learning about HIV, and I loved sharing my knowledge of something somewhat uncomfortable in a way that was accessible to teenagers.
In college, I volunteered at the Boston Living Center, an AIDS service organization, every Saturday morning (which is no small feat for an undergrad!).
So when I finished school, I knew that I wanted to be a health educator.
After a brief detour in hospitality and a neighborhood revitalization project, in the fall of 2007, I made it: I joined Planned Parenthood of Delaware as a Health Educator and Community Outreach Organizer.
And I’ve been in public health ever since, working for amazing organizations like Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania (PPSP) and the Hepatitis B Foundation, on an amazing research study at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine, and now advancing place-based public health at Counter Tools. I also *finally* earned a Masters of Public Health from UNC in 2015. (What’s funny is that I didn’t even know public health was a field of study until I was at PPSP. How was that possible?)
Public health is vast and complicated, and working in the field can be incredibly frustrating. But it can also be incredibly rewarding. From teaching young people about puberty to helping folks make their communities healthier by passing pro-equity policies, ten years have flown by.
And since it’s the season: if you’re looking for somewhere to make a charitable donation, please consider giving to a public health organization with a mission you feel passionately about.