Graduates talk

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Allison Bailey / Huntsville, Alabama
MPH, School of Public Health

What is your specialization within public health?
Epidemiology of microbial diseases. Anything that you can catch, we cover.

Why did you choose public health?
In high school, I was interested in the health field and bounced around exploring different options. Then, in 2014, the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone started making headlines. Hearing stories of health care workers going to these countries where they didn’t know anybody, and putting themselves at risk to help people, I thought, “Wow, that’s what I want to do.”

Did you take courses outside of your program?
I audited Public Health Law at the law school. It was really interesting to see my field from a different perspective. [A lawmaker might say,] “Let’s give a $100 fine to everybody who doesn’t wear a face mask in a restaurant.” But that’s not what we want; that may exacerbate other health issues. Maybe you’re causing somebody not to put food on the table that week.

One of the things I’ve always loved about public health is that everything is related to public health, and public health is related to everything else. It’s truly interdisciplinary. And public health is really reliant on support from everyone. It’s a group effort.

What are your plans?
I’ve been applying to state and local health departments. Right now, with COVID, that’s where the action is. My dream job would be working for the CDC in Atlanta in the Viral Special Pathogens Branch and, ultimately, for their Epidemic Intelligence Service. I did food-borne illness investigations on a contract with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. We haven’t had that many outbreaks, because the potato salad can’t go bad at a church picnic if you’re not allowed to have a church picnic.