University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health Program, 2019
University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor of Arts in Health and Societies, 2017
Favorite thing about Philly: Cheesesteaks from Steve’s Prince of Steaks
As an undergraduate Health and Societies major at Penn, Carlos wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after graduation. During his senior year, some of his classmates mentioned the submatriculation between Penn undergrad and the MPH Program. He took some time to think about how an MPH degree would benefit him, applied to the program, and the rest is history.
“My undergraduate studies gave me a theoretical lens,” he said. “Then the MPH Program put those theories into practice and got me closer to making it practical when addressing health disparities among communities, which is what I ultimately want to do.”
Before beginning the MPH Program, he admittedly had a very basic understanding of what public health is. His undergraduate years were research heavy and much of his time was devoted to writing papers. This made him wonder what these theoretical perspectives looked like on the ground.
“The public health prospective, given that it’s interdisciplinary by nature, that it’s also team-based and hands on, to me that’s what attracted me the most [to go into public health]” Carlos, who is on the generalist track, said. “And the fact that this was an opportunity where I can actually do that in a school that I’m already well-acclimated with, then you really can’t beat that.”
While going to school full-time, Carlos has also been working part-time as a Data Monitor at the Wistar Institute, a biomedical research center in Philadelphia. Skills he’s learned in Biostatistics and Methods for Public Health Practice, both required courses in the MPH Program, have translated into his work. Namely, the skill of survey development. An example is creating questions about how to capture a demographic that may be living with HIV or AIDS or how to advertise to potential participants to donate blood to the phlebotomy department.
“Bench scientists can typically stray away from those type of skills and I think public health would allow them to provide a different perspective,” he explained. “So just by being a fish out of the water is cool.”
During his time in the program, he volunteered with Penn Public Health Society Service Corps, which allowed him to focus on civic engagement and community service projects. His primary volunteer experience was with Achieving Independence Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and tools for youth to achieve goals such as completing high school, obtaining housing, among other goals.
Although Carlos, a Philly native, has enjoyed his six years at Penn, he recommends prospective students to explore outside the campus boundaries.
“Philly is a really good spot where public health is in action all the time. Branching out beyond West Philly, University City, and even Center City would provide students better insight into what public health looks like in different contexts and just how they are essentially a part of that community that tries to make cities and communities better.”
When he’s not busy taking classes or working, you can find Carlos enjoying Latin dancing, playing video games, watching anime, or playing musical instruments—everything from the piano to guitar to hand percussions.