headshot of Public Health Certificate student Ellaine Arroyo in graduation gown

College Grad Turns to Public Health Certificate as Stepping Stone in Her Career

Ellaine Arroyo is dedicated to bringing equitable change to patient care. As a Filipino American woman, she empathizes with the issues minority populations face especially concerning cultural barriers and increased risks for certain health conditions. “The need for an improved high-quality healthcare system that supports everyone motivates me to make a meaningful impact through a career in the public health field,” says Arroyo, who plans to become a healthcare administrator. To get there, she has her sights set on earning a Master of Public Health.  

After graduating from UC Davis in spring 2023 with a B.S. in neurobiology, physiology and behavior and a minor in community development, she made a post-grad decision to apply to UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s online Public Health Certificate Program to build upon her undergrad studies before applying to grad school. Currently in the midst of the certificate program, Arroyo opened up to us about this journey.  

Why did you apply to the Public Health Certificate Program?

I thought it was a great opportunity to gain a professional foundation in public health within an ideal timeline after completing my bachelor’s degree.  

How do you see this certificate program helping you achieve your goals?

This certificate program serves as a stepping stone in my education as I continue getting exposed to graduate-level coursework. I believe it will help me stand out in my graduate applications as an eager student committed to pursuing public health. It is also a plus that the credits from this certificate program can transfer to the UC Davis MPH, one of the programs that I am planning to apply for in a few years.  

What are your goals for the program and what do you hope to gain out of the experience?

My main goals for the certificate program are to increase my fundamental understanding of public health concepts and grow my skill set for solving complex challenges to enhance life outcomes. I hope to gain a solid tool kit for mitigating and preventing future burdens in healthcare.  

What have you learned so far and how has this knowledge built upon your undergraduate studies?

Considering an MPH?

The graduate-level coursework of the Public Health Certificate Program can serve as a post-baccalaureate for competitive MPH programs. Speak with our enrollment coach Kristy Craig to learn more.

The fundamental coursework that I’m completing has expanded my understanding and application of public health. This opportunity has equipped me with a well-rounded skill set for addressing complex health challenges with strategic approaches.   

The first few weeks of my course about determinants of health complemented the social theories I analyzed in my community development courses, which helped me figure out potential solutions for addressing health disparities. In my epidemiology course, learning about several study designs and interventions built upon the critical thinking mindset I had to apply in my neurobiology courses, but specifically for public health purposes.  

What has been your most valuable takeaway from the certificate program so far?

It was very insightful to learn SAS programming in the SAS primer course. I was briefly exposed to using Python and R in the past, but this program allows me to go in-depth with using SAS studio to make sure I understand how to make the most of my data in a public health context.  

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I hope to see myself working in healthcare administration at a hospital or clinic, where I aim to promote equitable healthcare access and quality for diverse populations through coordinated approaches.

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