“Public Sector, Public Health” – by Jennifer Fauls


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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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