“Public Sector, Public Health” – by Jennifer Fauls

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Matt Pruitt

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As an undergraduate I spent countless hours in the physics lab poring
over complex analytical equations. However, I spent every spare moment

reading the news; I was constantly drawn to learn about the inequities

in the distribution of economic opportunity and vital health services in

the world. Although I found my scientific studies rewarding, I knew I

ultimately wanted a career in public service. After graduation, I worked

with several organizations promoting social change on the grassroots,

state, and international levels.



While at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, I discovered

that public health was an excellent vehicle for me to combine my

interests and abilities. I worked on a variety of projects ranging from

monitoring the state-wide Needle Exchange Program’s data collection

system to conducting quality assurance for prevention activities. I felt

engaged and useful, and I realized that public health was a fantastic

fit for me.



I knew, however, that my real passion lay in the intersection of health

and international human rights, and that I needed to go abroad to learn

from direct experience. I took a second job to earn extra money and

headed to the Thai-Burma border. While there, I provided technical

assistance to groups that deliver cross-border healthcare by analyzing

data, monitoring programs, and delivering trainings. After witnessing

the importance of fundamental health measures to the lives of so many, I

feel more committed to this work than ever.



Subsequently, I decided to enroll in graduate school at Columbia

University’s Mailman School of Public Health to be more effective in my

service to others. I want to create concrete tools for programs to

address gaps in cultural competency. The combination of public health

and structural injustice is a common theme in the academic texts I read.

However, I see an unmet need in the development of tangible resources

for practitioners to bridge these two areas. My long-term goals are to

promote the integration of public health with other fields engaged in

social justice work by creating partnerships, forming collaborative

programs, and establishing funding streams that address development

issues holistically and systemically.



I would be honored to be considered for this scholarship as I believe I

have potential to continue leading and contributing in the public

sector. I am motivated and take initiative – from volunteering on Darfur

issues to writing a grant for a malaria funding agency, I’m happy to

undertake the work necessary. I also appreciate the value of people and

processes. In Thailand, while my coworkers often rushed through teaching

our local partners a new skill, I saw the learning process as an

integral part of the overall project. I knew that it was possible to

complete tasks quickly, but I took additional time to rephrase

explanations and communicate them more effectively to our local

partners. I truly believe Gandhi’s dictum to be the change we wish to

see. To me this applies not only to the work I choose to do, but also

to how I do it.

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