Now that I have graduated from college, I've been using this free time to reflect on what my future plans are and how I intend to bring them into fruition. I graduated from Howard University on May 12, 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science, Health Sciences (Health Administration) degree. This degree prepares students to manage a variety of health care settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, and other health facilities. Students can even get involved with health policy. With that said, I originally wanted to go into hospital management. It didn’t work out as I had planned; I volunteered at a hospital once and I didn't like the environment, nor did I like the idea of being behind a desk all day. So, I turned my attention to public health administration, which is health advocacy and policy-based work. Although my degree prepares me for a management career, I intend to use it to transition into health advocacy and policy - which has the greatest impact on the health care system. My desire to focus on health policy was further emboldened while working at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and working with Doctors for America (DFA), a national non-profit organization that advocates for quality health care from the perspective of a physician.
My experience at DHHS and DFA was absolutely phenomenal. At DHHS’Office on Women's Health (OWH), I worked directly with the Senior Advisor for Policy and the Deputy Director on many projects. It was a great learning experience. In fact, it was one of my best internships to date. Within this office, I was provided a fuller understanding of administration and policy. I worked on budget reviews for OWH, departmental performances, researched and reported on women's health issues in relation to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, conducted grant reviews, and assisted the chairperson for the Assistant Secretary for Health's special project on employee satisfaction. As mentioned before, these experiences have emboldened me to seek a career in public service. It was there where I met and interacted with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Surgeon General of the United States, and many more federal officials who have committed their lives to serving this great nation. At DFA, I learned the ins and outs of how non-profits work and will certainly apply those skills throughout my career. In the long run, I want to be very instrumental in an advocacy organization that fights on the behalf of people who have long received inadequate representation on health care issues. In addition to working in the non-profit sector, I also want to work for the federal government where I would focus on health issues and work towards implementing sound policies for the country.
My immediate next steps are to attend graduate school. At first I intended to attend graduate school for a Masters of Public Health (MPH). I researched and called numerous programs for information; however, I had gained pivotal insight from my internships at OWH and DFA. I realized that a MPH was not the only path to success in the field. In fact, I realized that a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) would give me a greater skill-set, broader scope, and solid training in public management and the political nuances associated with health policy which is why I am attending the University of Baltimore's MPA program for the Fall 2012 semester.
My advice for those who are still in high school or college is this: life is what you make it and you truly determine your own success. It doesn't matter where you come from because at the end of the day the present moment is what only matters. As Chris Matthews of MSNBC News said at my commencement, "Don't say no to yourself. Make them say no to you".