The opportunity to “blend hard science and research with service for the purpose of improving health and living conditions” is what finally drew Alyson Harding to public health. She had the service part down: The graduate of North Carolina State University with degrees in anthropology and chemistry spent two “gap years” after college as an AmeriCorps member with Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Colorado and South Carolina before moving to New Orleans, Louisiana, and serving as a construction site supervisor.
“While I knew it would be difficult to make a career out of nonprofit construction, I loved the hands-on work to improve lives,” she says. “I could see the progress of my work every day, and working alongside my future homeowner was always a rewarding experience. This ultimately led to my decision to pursue a career in public health, as an MPH will allow me the potential to make changes on a larger scale.”
A Dean’s Scholar at Pitt Public Health, Harding currently is working toward a Master of Public Health in epidemiology and is interested in disaster epidemiology and researching health outcomes of disaster situations. She hopes to pursue a career in research to better understand necessary preparation for and response to emergencies and appreciates the opportunity to work with the Center for Disaster Management in the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs.
“The biggest reason I chose Pitt Public Health is the amazing culture of the school,” she says. “It’s a very supportive environment, as everyone wants each other to succeed. The faculty is working on amazing, cutting-edge research but still has time to work with and meet with students. I have found faculty, staff, and other students going out of their way to put me in touch with potential contacts, research opportunities, and potential internships. I know the emphasis on networking will be beneficial to my career in public health.”