headshot of UC Davis Public Health Certificate student Youvanna Jimenez

On the Path to a Rewarding Career in Public Health

“I’m passionate about making a positive impact on communities and being part of the effort to enhance health outcomes,” says Youvanna Jimenez on why she’s pursuing a career in public health. Her goal: to improve health outcomes by shrinking the impact of structural racism on health disparities.  

Currently working as a program associate at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Jimenez enrolled in UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s (CPE) Public Health Certificate Program to enhance her understanding of the field and gain foundational knowledge before deciding whether to earn a master’s in public health. “My goal was to assess how well the program's content resonated with my interests and experiences,” she says. “So far, the Public Health Certificate Program has strengthened my passion for the subject and has strongly aligned with my interests in working to address health disparities in underserved communities.”  

Setting a Course for Success

Jimenez first learned about health disparities and the concepts of healthcare systems and policies during undergrad at UC Davis, where she majored in psychology with a minor in Chicano studies. When she began researching master’s in public health programs, she says she was drawn to CPE’s online certificate in public health because of the curriculum. “I found that this certificate covers introductory courses like those in MPH programs and offers the flexibility of transferring units,” she says. “This opportunity allows me to explore specific topics before fully committing to a Master’s program.”  

Jimenez adds that the public health certificate is good preparation for grad school. “Having been out of school for a while, the certificate program also serves as a valuable tool for refining my time management skills, which I think are crucial for balancing full-time work with the pursuit of an advanced degree.”  

It is also important to Jimenez that she build on the foundation she learned during her undergrad studies. “My goals for this program include building a better understanding of key areas, such as epidemiology, statistics and health policy, in order to become a competitive candidate for a master's program,” she says. “I also want to enhance my practical skills, so I can actively participate in research discussions in my current job.”   

Applying New Skills

So far, the certificate program is proving valuable to Jimenez's current work. “I’ve noticed that what I’ve learned in Epidemiology and my ongoing studies in the Social Determinants of Health course directly apply to some of my work,” she says. “This connection is particularly exciting for me, as I now feel more confident making contributions and providing meaningful input during our team meetings.”  

Considering an MPH?

The graduate-level coursework of the Public Health Certificate Program can serve as a post-baccalaureate for competitive MPH programs. Contact an enrollment coach today to learn more about how you can benefit from the program.

Jimenez adds that learning how these concepts apply to daily life has even been beneficial outside of work. “This knowledge has not only enhanced my understanding of concepts in my professional life but has also enabled me to think critically about research discussed in news articles and the media.”  

As she looks ahead to completing her certificate in public health and earning her master’s degree, Jimenez is excited for the next chapter in her life and the opportunity to take on more challenging roles and responsibilities. “A career in public health aligns with my diverse interests in medicine, policy and law. Being in this field will allow me to integrate these areas of interest into my work,” she says. “I aim to leverage my skills by actively participating in a team dedicated to creating impactful programs that effectively promote community health and well-being.”

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