By Katie Freeland, MPH Global Health student
As an individual who has been raised in a privileged setting of private schools my entire life, I’ve had the opportunity to live in comfort. My parents have been able to provide for me, and I’ve never really had a lot of hardships. I realize that I am very blessed in this sense. I also realize that most of the world’s population is not as lucky as I am.
Before you get annoyed, I’m honestly not stating these things to brag or to sound callous. I’m stating them because I realize that I can use these opportunities to hopefully bring education, resources, and peace to individuals and groups of people–the marginalized–who have not been afforded the advantages that I have.
As a sophomore in high school, I had already figured out that I wanted to study communications and photography in college, and that’s exactly what I did. While studying at Southern Adventist University, I never changed my major (an amazing accomplishment in itself), and I was even able to gain a larger global perspective (and truly discover my love for traveling) when I spent nine months studying abroad in Florence, Italy my junior year.
In October 2012, less than a year after graduating with my B.S. in mass communication, I went on a life-changing mission trip to Haiti with Southern. I went as a photographer but I ended up doing so much more than taking pictures. I was able to help organize community clinics, helped gather and distribute supplies, and saw a total of nearly 200 children at the clinics. It was then I realized that, while I enjoyed working as a copywriter at an advertising agency (my first job out of college), I wanted to be able to focus my communication skills in the field of public health, specifically with nonprofits that help victims of human trafficking.
Coming from a communications background, I believe this has set me up to have a broad spectrum of interests. The global health track will give me an eclectic opportunity to delve into many topics of interest to me. In the last year of my undergraduate career and the year following, I became very interested in women’s health, access to health care, and human trafficking, along with many other human rights interests.
Another unique experience I was able to have in my undergraduate career was working for the Advancement and Development department at Southern for nearly three years. There I was able to witness fundraising and grant-writing from a first-person perspective. While I didn’t get to write grants as part of my job, I find that advancing my education in a public health school setting will give me this opportunity that I didn’t get a chance to have.
In the 2010-2011 school year, I was able to work for Asian Aid, USA, an NGO that helps women and children in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal with health education, human trafficking protection and relief, and builds schools for those in need. While I worked from the marketing and communications side of things, I realized that I wanted to be able to get involved more with the development and planning process. This was a great introductory time in my life to show me that I wanted to get involved with public and global health.
My goal with receiving an MPH is to work for an NGO, preferably one involved with human trafficking education, advocacy, and aid in all levels of the development process from beginning to end, and I am excited to begin my first year of my program at Loma Linda University School of Public Health.