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Department ofPublic Health


Karina Myers '17

I’m really happy I ended up finding this major, because it provided a really unique opportunity to study what I love from a really unique perspective.

What are you currently doing?

I just started working on the recruiting team at a tech company called Palantir. Our company engineers tools so clients can get the most out of their data. For example, if there was an outbreak of a virus, Palantir would create a tool for epidemiologists to view and analyze different data sets in one cohesive way. They do a lot of work in many industries, and it’s been really interesting to see the scope of the power of data.

Why did you decide to major in Public Health Science at SCU?

When I started undergrad at SCU, I had the intent to go into preventative medicine. I initially chose the public health major because it allowed me to study across disciplines. I was (and still am) really interested in the intersectionality of biology and social science on health. The public health major seemed like a great opportunity to explore this. When I started, I didn’t know anything about public health (other than the fact that classes sounded interesting). After taking PHSC 1, I had this weird “Aha” moment, because it felt like all my interests had found their way into this one field. I’m really happy I ended up finding this major, because it provided a really unique opportunity to study what I love from a really unique perspective.

Where did you do your internship for the PHSC major when you were a student?

I interned at two places for my PHSC internship. My first internship was with a naturopathic physician in Los Altos. Visiting an ND is really expensive and inaccessible for many people. On Saturdays, she would teach a small, free community class about different health topics. I helped her create handouts for patients, that synthesized class material in a simple, easy to read way. I also got to take vitals and perform different functional tests with patients.

My second internship was at a residential treatment center that focused on substance abuse and addiction. This treatment center was really unique because it focused on holistic healing. In addition to going to therapy, clients learned a lot about proper diet and exercise.

How did the internship impact your education, or influence what you did after graduation?

My first internship was super formative since I learned I did NOT want to work in a clinical setting. I had always been interested in health and science, so medicine seemed like the perfect path for my 15 year old self. While I was still extremely interested in my internship, I felt a lot less passion and slowly realized working in a clinical setting was not what I could truly see myself doing. At this time, I was also taking more public health classes, which exposed me to other careers that aligned with my core interests and passions.

What was your favorite PHSC class, and why?

This is really difficult, but PHSC 11, women’s health, was probably my favorite. I took it sophomore year, and I still talk about the information I learned in that class! I really loved how it followed a life course perspective and that we got to talk about women’s health on a global and domestic scale. It was a super interesting class, and I found myself always getting excited about the readings.

How did the Public Health program at SCU help prepare you for what you are doing now, or for your future goals?

I’m really grateful that it gave me so much exposure to different perspectives, disciplines, and careers all related to my interests. It also really opened my eyes to how complex health really is. When I started at SCU, I viewed health primarily as a function of diet and exercise. I had no idea what a social determinant of health was, and this program really redefined how I thought about health.

What are your long term goals?

As someone who changed her mind many, many, many times throughout undergrad, I can confidently say I’m still not totally sure. I’ve definitely considered getting an MPH in epi, but k for now, I want to take a little break from school.

What advice do you have for current public health students at SCU?

My first piece of advice would be to reach out to public health faculty and students. Everyone has a really unique path to public health, and don’t be afraid to ask people about theirs. I really enjoyed speaking to older students about their major and their plans.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to explore (and embrace) the disconnect between what you think you’re interested in and what you’re actually interested in. I came into undergrad with a really rigid plan of how the next 10 years of my life was going to be. Embrace those moments of change and enjoy experiences that don’t necessarily fit in perfectly with your 10 year plan.

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Valeriote Goldman Symposium: Public Health & Social Justice