Transforming Futures: University of Maryland’s SPH Program Guides Students for Careers in Health

Jennifer Alva, a first-generation college student and junior in public health science, is passionate about the Catalyst Initiative. She joined the program to learn more about the logistics of entering the medical field and to become a physician assistant. Alva is especially interested in helping the Latinx community and sees being the first in her family to pursue higher education as an opportunity to educate herself and level the playing field for her future.

The Catalyst Initiative was established earlier this semester with the goal of guiding students, particularly minority and first-generation students, through the challenges associated with pursuing careers in health professions. Public Health Science program director Kristin Cipriani expressed gratitude to donors who made the initiative possible, emphasizing the potential of both the program and its students.

Throughout the semester, the initiative organized four seminars for approximately 75 students. The topics covered included various health professions, preparation for medical school applications, essential professional skills, and financial aspects related to health professions. These discussions aimed to provide students with guidance and tools to navigate their career goals successfully.

During the last seminar held in early May, Dr. Tisa Canady spoke as a guest speaker on financial wellness specializing in student loan debt. Canady discussed various financial aids, loan repayment plans, debt management, average salaries, taxes, take-home pay, and insurance. The initiative aims to support students who may not have access to such essential information elsewhere by providing them with resources they need to plan their educational journey effectively.

Overall, Jennifer Alva found the Catalyst Initiative helpful in providing her with guidance on navigating her career goals successfully while addressing some of her unique challenges as a first-generation college student.

By Samantha Johnson

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