Joanna Ramirez is a first-year Master’s student in the Health Behavior Department in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is also the new Graduate Assistant for the Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS.
- What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I have always loved the idea of public health, and was considering a dual degree as a medical student for a long while. But after taking a few years off and working at a non-profit for adults with disabilities, as a CNA in nursing homes and with hospice, and as a research assistant in an oncology unit, I realized there are so many career options that don’t involve medical school. I decided to come to UNC for a degree in public health and see where that takes me.
- What’s the thing you love most about Chapel Hill?
The walkability. I love being able to walk everywhere I need to (if I have the time). I love the small-town feeling even though it isn’t quite a small town (definitely not as small-town as my undergrad experience was).
I also love my department; I’ve met really great people and am enjoying a chance to grow and learn from everyone here.
- If you had any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, what would it be?
Think about your goals and what you want to do. Imagine yourself living your best life and figure out if you need a graduate degree to get there. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. I would definitely recommend working in your field for a few years to get a real feel about what you’ll need to know and how a degree can help you be better. Grad school is a big commitment; it can be a great investment, but you should do it because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. If you feel passionate about what you’re doing, then go for it!
- What is your dream career after you’ve completed your studies?
Not sure. I’m passionate about reducing health disparities and improving health equity across all marginalized communities. Other than that, I don’t know where I’ll end up. My future is still in the making and I’m just excited for all of the opportunities.
Ideally, I would be somewhere close to my family and I’d have lots of free time to do some reading for fun.