Q&A with Public Health Student Chris Amezcua
How did you initially become interested in Public Health?
My freshman year, I was a Biology Pre-Med student, and I stuck with it for a while. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t feel like the right fit for me. A good friend of mine was switching to Public Health and encouraged me to pursue the major due to the community aspect. After his advice and encouragement, I decided to make the change, and so far, it has been the best experience! I’ve continued with Pre-Med, but having a Public Health background has changed my perspective of medicine. Other aspects of the medical field are more individual based, but with Public Health, it’s more community based. I hope to use my skills from Public Health in medical school someday.
As a current graduate student, what is your primary focus in the Public Health field?
The program I chose focuses on community health. There are three programs at Baylor: community health, epidemiology, and environmental science. Community health was the best option for me. This path was a good fit to focus on family medicine, my primary interest, where I can have one-on-one time with patients.
What has your experience in the Public Health graduate program looked like and how was the transition from undergraduate to graduate school at Baylor?
When I first started the program, I adapted well. In undergrad, I was studying 24/7, especially as a Pre-Med student. Now, as a graduate student, I have a lot of work with a lot less class tim—a change in responsibility definitely occurred. I am also able to create closer relationships with my professors. I feel as though I am a colleague as well as a student. Among my classmates, we’ve created a closer community compared to any undergraduate class I have taken. As far as coursework, I find myself with a lot of reading, many projects, and primarily group work. I enjoy it so far, and it has been great!
What has been the most impactful aspect about Public Health you’ve learned during your time in the Robbins College?
In general, I’ve learned about the overall importance of public health. Before COVID-19, I knew that Public Health was important, but to others outside the major, it was not well known. I was a Public Health major, but nobody seemed to know what exactly it was.
When COVID-19 happened, people knew what public health was, how it affected our daily lives, and how we’re tied to it. People see health through individualized medicine, a family doctor, or a physician, but we didn’t really see how public health played a role in our lives until the pandemic. We now see that it is a very big part of our lives. In a broader sense, this is what I’ve overarchingly learned in my time in both the undergraduate and graduate program at Baylor.
What has been your favorite memory in the program?
One of my favorite memories was my first semester in the program. After that day, I knew this program was the right place for me. In an intro class, I participated in a public health fair for the homeless population in Waco. We were assigned public health topics, and I was assigned cardiovascular disease and blood pressure. During the fair, we were able to get to know and interact with the people in Waco. I could see how Public Health students had an impact on the community in real time, instead of sitting in a classroom and reading about it in a textbook or hearing about it in a lecture. I was exposed to the actual world; it was a small experience, but it goes a long way.
I had the opportunity as a grad student to help undergraduate students with their presentations. I loved having that experience and seeing this fair from both sides. Public health can go a long way, especially for a population that is undervalued and at risk.
Do you have any advice for potential students interested in Public Health or graduate school?
What I tell people all the time is push yourself out of your comfort zone. Public health is a very broad spectrum, like I mentioned. Students can get involved with just about anything. Be okay with not being comfortable—it’s how you learn and grow to be the best student in Public Health that you can be.