Zuwena Plata was an MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health.
Zuwena Plata grew up in Brooklyn, New York and then headed off to the Philadelphia area to attend the Haverford College where she majored in biology. Like many students, Zuwena wasn't exactly sure what career path she wanted to take.
"As a biology major, I had plenty of lab experience but I didn't get that human interaction that I desired," says Plata. "But, I also took a summer internship with a community development organization where I had the opportunity to work with people and quickly realized that I also missed the research aspect of my studies."
It wasn’t until her senior year that Zuwena became exposed to the possibility of a career in public health.
"At the time, one of my epidemiology professors was working on her doctorate degree in epidemiology and I began speaking with her about the field. That's when I really began to feel like I knew public health was something I wanted to get into."
Now at UB, Zuwena just completed her first year as an MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. This summer, Zuwena will be working towards completing her field placement training and her integrative project, both required aspects of the MPH program.
One of the things that attracted Zuwena to UB was the small school feel that she got, even though the university is fairly large.
“I like the fact that our department is small and because I went to a small school for undergrad – I think we had maybe 1200 students,” says Zuwena. “It is good to know, at least within my department, I still feel that closeness and I can interact with my professors pretty regularly and then actually know who I am.”
Zuwena also notes that part of her consideration set for grad schools was price.
“Part of my decision making process was price,” says Zuwena. “UB is very affordable and I was able to secure a Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship which was extremely helpful in terms of providing funding for me to continue my education here at UB.”
Through coordination by the Office of Global Health Initiatives and Director Pavani Ram, MD, Zuwena will be headed to India to begin both her field placement and her integrative project, both requirements aspects of the MPH program.
In India, Zuwena will be working with the organization WaterAid in New Delhi to conduct two different projects; a literature review and a data analysis.
"The literature review will be to look at evidence based research for behavior change regarding hand washing and sanitation," explains Zuwena. "It will be more focused on sanitation, however, since there is not a lot of studies on this."
In regards to the data analysis project, she says she hopes to be able to provide recommendations to improve sanitation conditions in those areas she will be visiting.
"The data analysis will be based off of publicly available data obtained from school on the implementation of the WaSH, or water, sanitation, and hygiene programs," says Zuwena. "I'd look to see how this program is impacting access to latrines for both boys and girls and possibly make recommendations for better data collection and tracking of the programs over time."