“What I love the most about public health is how interdisciplinary it is. Public health really encourages and promotes partnerships between so many different professions and organizations,” Maria Huynh said. “It’s really inspiring to know that people with different backgrounds and ideals can come together to work on an issue for the overall good.”
Born in Vietnam, USF College of Public Health graduate student Maria Huynh moved to Atlantic City, N.J with her family when she was one years old.
Huynh became introduced to public health as an undergraduate student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
“I took an introductory course on different health professions and there was a guest lecturer from the school of public health,” Huynh said. “She spoke so passionately about public health and the ability to make a difference, not only from an individual level but from community and societal level, that I knew I had to be a part of public health.”
After receiving her undergraduate degrees in both public health and biological sciences in 2011, Huynh began working towards her MPH at the COPH in the dual concentration program for epidemiology and maternal & child health.
“I actually knew I wanted to go to USF before I even knew I was accepted! My family and I actually visited Florida while I was applying to MPH programs and I convinced them to stop by the COPH so I could take a picture with the COPH sign in front of the school,” she said. “I loved how the COPH had so many options for concentrations and I wanted to be part of a community with a lot of school spirit so going to USF just made sense.”
During her time at the COPH, Huynh was involved in the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization (MCHSO) and Eta Sigma Gamma and the National Health Education Honorary.
She is most proud of planning and implementing the MCHSO Annual Symposium for two years.
“It was so much fun working with other students who were passionate about maternal and child health to create an event with so many community partners,” she said. “At times it was challenging but everyone — students, faculty, staff and MCHSO alumni — were so supportive that there was a never a hurdle too big we couldn’t get over. I am so proud of all the work the members of MCHSO put into the symposium and I’m sure that the future symposiums will continue to be a success.”
“My biggest inspiration at USF has been Dr. Ellen Daley,” she said. “I am grateful for the chance to learn from someone who has been so invested in women’s health. She has accomplished so much while still remaining a humble person. She taught me that we will always be learning and growing, both personally and professionally, and gave me a lot of opportunities to build my skills as a public health professional.”
Huynh is currently finishing up her internship in Salt Lake City where she was matched to the Utah Department of Health through the Graduate Student Epidemiology Program.
There she analyzes hospital and birth data to develop a report on the current state of severe maternal morbidity for the state of Utah. That report will be used as a baseline for current and future programs to improve maternal health for women in Utah.
“I’m really excited to be working on this project because I am firm believer in women’s health and by supporting healthy moms, we can support healthy babies who are the future leaders of our communities,” she said.
Huynh believes that she made the right decision to attend the COPH.
“I had a great time at the COPH and I know I made the right decision to come here and be surrounded by so many inspirational public health professionals,” she said.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health
Tags: Department of Community and Family Health, Ellen Daley, Epidemiology, Graduate Student Epidemiology Program, graduation, Maria Huynh, Maternal and Child Health, Maternal and Child Health Student Organization, MCHSO, MPH, women's health