As a friend of mine once said, "some of the most poignant tragedies of history are not the bloody graves of what has been, but rather the anguished ghosts of the almosts and the aching sighs of the might-have-beens." This realization is what motivates my passion for the field of Public Health, a discipline that works to prevent tragedies rather than simply react to them. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I saw dreams lost and lives crushed by things that could have so easily been prevented or avoided if only there had been someone who cared. I saw many of my neighbourhood friends get sick or die of preventable diseases and knew from a very young age that I wanted to become someone who helped prevent such devastating losses. I am passionate about educating underserved populations for improved health and lifestyles on a global scale.
As part of my goal of pursuing a Master’s degree and becoming a Public Health professional, I believe it is important for me to gain hands-on experience in the research process as an undergraduate, and to practice the health promotion techniques I have learned over previous semesters of coursework in global and community health. I have the opportunity to join Professor Sina Gallo this fall in a research project she is launching to investigate the potential origins of childhood obesity. The main objective of this project is to assess the prevalence of obesity in 2-5 year old children attending daycare in the Northern Virginia area. The project will also explore possible family and lifestyle factors, including how nutrition and physical activity are associated with the development of obesity. I have previously taken courses taught by Dr. Gallo, and since have developed a positive working relationship; thus, I have confidence in her vision. I strongly believe that participating in this project will help me to learn about the research process and will allow me to explore more options as I begin thinking about graduate work.
This research opportunity comes at an ideal time for me as I am just beginning my senior year. By participating in the project I hope to gain crucial experience and build foundational skills to shape my future in the field of Public Health and research. I specifically hope to learn more about how theory and practice differ in public health research and how to work effectively with the public.
I am eager to see first hand value of public health research in making a difference in people's lives. Find more effective ways to prevent childhood obesity is one of the critical health issues of this generation. This pilot study will begin to help us unravel the complex factors behind the increasing rate of childhood obesity and how to most effectively prevent it particularly amongst the young vulnerable populations. Obesity is something that affects each of us, directly or indirectly and being able to prevent this disease would make a tremendous difference in our society.