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Hannah Williams: Journalism and Public Health

Hannah Williams: Merging Journalism and Public Health with a Passion for Global Well-being

Meet Hannah Williams, an aspiring public health professional and Master of Public Health (MPH) student at the University of West Florida (UWF). In this interview, Hannah shares her journey into the field of public health, her inspirations, and her experiences as a graduate student.

1. What made you decide to become a public health professional, what was your inspiration?

Hannah's journey into public health began during her undergraduate years as a journalism major. She always had a love for writing and believed that investigative reporting would be her path to fulfilling her desire to serve others. However, a pivotal moment occurred when she took an introduction to global health class that opened her eyes to the world of public health. She discovered diseases she had never heard of and learned about health systems in countries lacking essential infrastructure and access to basic necessities. This course ignited her passion for global public health, prompting her to change her major and pursue it wholeheartedly.

While her academic experience was a significant inspiration, her mother played an even more influential role in her journey. Her mother, a pediatric nurse practitioner, devoted her career to serving communities in need around the world. Witnessing her mother's dedication from a young age instilled in Hannah the belief that a career in health service is one of the most rewarding paths one can take.

2. What led you to UWF? What makes UWF special?

After completing her undergraduate degree, Hannah initially pursued a Master of Arts in Geography with a focus on medical geography at the University of Florida. However, she realized that her true calling lay in disease prevention and health promotion rather than spatial data analysis. This realization led her to the University of West Florida, where she could pursue a fully online Master of Public Health program while working full-time in Jacksonville, Florida. What makes UWF special to her is that the entire program is online, enabling her to connect with classmates and professors in a virtual environment without missing out on the in-person experience.

3. What do you think of the faculty and staff at UWF? Have they helped you achieve your goals while in grad school?

Hannah has a positive view of the faculty and staff at UWF. She had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Karishma Chhabria, her epidemiology professor, and was impressed by her dedication and willingness to engage in meaningful discussions. Dr. Chhabria not only taught the course material but also explored research project ideas with Hannah. This experience reinforced Hannah's belief that, even in a fully online program, professors are willing to collaborate and support students in their research endeavors.

4. What do you hope to do after you graduate?

Upon completing her MPH degree, Hannah aims to transition into a public health role that aligns with her education and passion. Her focus areas of interest include HIV/AIDS and sexual health or chronic disease prevention.

5. What advice would you give to current students, specifically undergrad students thinking about pursuing higher education?

Hannah's advice to current students is to trust their instincts. If they are passionate about something or want to explore a new field, they should not hesitate to make the necessary changes. Venturing out of one's comfort zone can lead to discovering true passions and career paths.

Additionally, Hannah encourages students to pursue higher education if they believe it is essential for their success in their chosen field. She highlights the importance of reaching out to program departments to inquire about graduate assistantships, which can provide valuable experience, financial support, and tuition waivers.

Hannah's journey from journalism to public health is a testament to the power of following one's passions and embracing change. Her commitment to making a positive impact on global health and her determination to pursue her dreams serve as an inspiration to all aspiring public health professionals. With her dedication and the support of UWF's online MPH program, Hannah is well on her way to making a meaningful difference in the world of public health.