“I love that public health is a perfect blend of science and humanity,” says Alexa Meinhardt (EPI ‘19).
The MPH student and Dean’s Scholar studied biological sciences at the University of Delaware with the intent to become a genetic counselor. She picked up a minor in public health “on a whim” and immediately was hooked on epidemiology and research methods. A self-described “people person,” she says she’s drawn to the community aspect of public health.
“Public health touches literally everything in our daily lives—from the fluoride in our water to the seatbelts in our cars, to the after-school programs for children, to insurance coverage, and so much more,” she says. “I love knowing that my work is interdisciplinary and requires collaboration with many different people.”
There was one person in particular whom Meinhardt credits with being the overwhelmingly deciding factor in her choice to attend Pitt Public Health for her MPH: Nancy Glynn. Meinhardt met Glynn, who is the director of master’s degree programs for the Department of Epidemiology and her now advisor, at a graduate school fair in fall 2017, almost an entire year before she intended to start her studies.
“We had a great conversation at the fair and immediately had a connection,” she says. “I gave her my resume and was pleased to see an email from her in my inbox shortly after. This small action went above and beyond any experience I had with other grad schools. She is an incredible guide, for myself and my peers, and I would not be here without her direction and support.”
Meinhardt says she’s still exploring her career options but is considering pursuing a PhD or DrPH after working for a few years. She’s leaning toward maternal and child health and social/community health and hopes to work in a research-focused role that will allow her to interact directly with communities as well as apply her epidemiologic and statistic skills to work with data.
“My courses and experiences at Pitt Public Health challenge me and encourage growth,” she says. “Attending weekly seminars on various epidemiologic topics—such as industry-based research projects, a diabetes management program in the workplace, and research on health policy—exposes me to potential career options upon graduation. Pitt Public Health excels at blending in-class time and coursework with hands-on experiences, like the summer practicum, to prepare students for the workforce.
“Much like I enjoy public health because of the people, I chose Pitt Public Health because of the people here. I truly feel like a valued member of the Pitt Public Health community—with my peers, mentors, professors, and anyone I encounter. Everyone is so passionate about public health and willing to help me advance my education and career.”