1. What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Although I earned my undergrad degree in biology, I realized midway through my program that my passions truly lied in public health, particularly in the areas of food and nutrition. I knew that in order to do my part to address diet-related health disparities in urban communities, I would need to further my studies in public health. I decided to pursue my MPH at UNC because the program trains me for a career in dietetics, while simultaneously helping me develop the public health skill set that will aid me in my career. Every day I set foot on campus and interact with my peers and my professors, I am reminded that I made the right choice by pursuing my degree here.
2. What’s the thing you love most about Chapel Hill?
Aside from Vimala’s Restaurant, what I love most about Chapel Hill is that it’s a very running and cycling-friendly town. With bike lanes nearly everywhere and trails all throughout the city, the only barrier to me being active really is my own laziness. However, running with a group of graduate students this semester as part of the Grad Fit Run Club has really helped to make that less of an issue.
- If you had any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, what would it be?
Two words: self-assess. I would advise them to really sit down to self-assess and ask themselves why they are pursuing a graduate degree in the first place. Graduate school is a serious commitment of both time and finances. If you don’t have a strong sense of why you’re in a particular degree program, you may find it harder to maintain the level of success required to finish the program. When I thought about pursuing an MPH, I asked myself “How will this degree help me achieve my professional goals?” and “In what ways will this degree fill in the gap between the person I am now and the person I aspire to be?” Doing this assessment was beneficial, as it helped me articulate my reasons for wanting to pursue this degree, which was super helpful for when it came time to prepare my personal statement for the graduate school application.
- What is your dream career after you’ve completed your studies?
In broad terms, my dream career involves me addressing nutrition-related health disparities prevalent in urban communities of color. Specifically, I see myself leading cooking demonstrations and educational sessions targeted toward helping people make healthier choices, wherever they may be socio-economically. I also see myself teaching people about how food relates to both their physical and spiritual well-being. Finally, I foresee my career empowering men of color to be proactive about their health by taking more ownership of their food choices.
However, through the connections I have made in my time at Carolina thus far, I have realized that the scope of my career aspirations goes beyond dietetics. I believe that food is more than just what we eat to fuel ourselves; it is a vehicle through which history is revealed, stories are told, conversations are shared, and compassion is practiced. That said, I want to help others develop a relationship with food on similar levels. I know that sounds like a lot, but if you’re going to dream, why not dream big?