Master of Public Health students Andrea Avendaño-Jurado and Syreen Goulmamine share what they’ve learned while working to improve Virginia’s community health
Two Master of Public Health students received a High Impact Grant from Mason's Office of Provost. The grant allows graduate students to pursue training and education in their fields. Andrea Avendaño-Jurado and Syreen Goulmamine utilized their grants to make a lasting impact in their practicum organizations by addressing critical public health issues affecting Virginia communities.
Increasing access for marginalized communities
At the Inova Cares Clinic for Women and Children, Avendaño-Jurado applies her data analytic skills to identify obstacles preventing women from accessing prenatal care services.
"A vast number of patients are not native English speakers which hinders their use of Medicaid transportation services. I’m diving deeper into data trends to uncover more risk factors and explore ways to reduce this barrier.
“For example, I am analyzing no-show rates of patients with documented unmet transportation needs, food insecurity, type of insurance, and general demographic information to address unmet social needs and no-show visits during prenatal care,” said Avendaño-Jurado.
Avendaño-Jurado continued: "I have witnessed and experienced the influence that public health practices have on historically marginalized communities. However, there is still more to uncover to disrupt health inequities definitively. The Master of Public Health program and the High Impact Grant allow me to continue to trace and improve health in diverse populations."
Paving the way for public health organizations and students
As her capstone project, Goulmamine, president of Graduate Students in Public Health, applies her public health research and data analytics skills at the Chickahominy Health District. She created a first-of-its-kind reporting tool for the Health District and other community partners. The tool will track the Health District's progress in implementing the Community Health Improvement Plan based on Central Virginia's public health priority areas established by Community Health Assessments. Goulmamine’s goal is for the reporting tool to be transferrable to other public health organizations nationwide.
Based on her experience interviewing and networking with public health professionals while building the reporting tool, she is constructing a resource guide showcasing available careers and student research opportunities for her fellow Master of Public Health students.
“Many public health students are unaware of the full range of skills we can develop and the resources that exist, so I’m connecting with professionals at the Health District about their career goals and stories," Goulmamine said. "I'm sharing what I learned from my practicum by compiling resources public health graduate students can access to better equip them for their futures.”
Applying skills to real-world situations
Both students agree on the value hands-on learning opportunities provide to rising public health professionals.
"Having a hands-on public health learning experience allows us to see the real-life impact of our education and future career choices by applying the theories and concepts we've learned in classrooms to a practical setting, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the field," Goulmamine said.
"Hands-on learning experiences remove the hypotheticals, promote real-time problem solving, and inevitably ensues a lasting impact during the process," Avendaño-Jurado added.
As both students prepare to graduate in 2023, they each share a drive to make a lasting impact on public health. After graduation, Goulmamine plans to help organizations promote health and wellness by combining her love of health equity and chronic disease research with her communication, project management, and data analysis skills. Avendaño-Jurado aims to explore career options in epidemiology and data analysis and apply her public health education to transform care for marginalized communities.