(BA Hispanic Studies & Linguistics)
Before I graduated in May 2014, I had vague thoughts of traveling the world, or at least having some (any) plans to explain when people inevitably asked what was next for me. When Prof. Terukina mentioned the English Opens Doors Program in Chile to me, I jumped on the opportunity. I loved the six months teaching English in Chile and the family I lived with, yet, when the semester ended, I knew that I wasn’t ready for a full-time job in education. Again directionless (and with loans to start paying off), I moved home.
“I found a job in respite care and then a seasonal job at a summer camp (that I loved). Through a friend, I started volunteering with the Fire Department’s emerging Community & Public Health Division in Colorado Springs, which became a full-time job. Now, I’ve spent two years there, working in a program that connects people who frequently call 9-1-1 with medical, social, and mental health services. Though my volunteer position started as data entry, I ended up writing and winning grants, analyzing program data and designing reports, and even helping to implement a new software program.
“My job’s flexibility meant that I got to do a little bit of a lot of things, but the organization’s focus on partnerships with other agencies meant that I met people across the health sector. Through conversations, conferences and my daily job responsibilities, I learned that I really enjoyed work with upstream health interventions and research-based interventions. I wanted to develop the evaluation skills and knowledge base necessary to help similar programs. After two and a half years of discovering the joys and the frustrations of the working world, I wanted to go back to school.
“My friends, classmates and professors from William & Mary were fundamental parts of my frantic attempts to figure out where I was headed. Between Skype calls with classmates who were in programs I was interested in, and advice and recommendation letters from professors, I crammed my GRE, school research and application submission in to a two month period.
“In September, I’m off to Drexel University in Philadelphia to get my Masters of Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention. I was offered a fellowship with their Urban Health Collaborative, which works to synthesize community data and make it available to organizations and individuals who live there, so that they can improve their health and well-being. Where I go from there, I have no idea – so don’t ask – but I’m excited!