As a registered nurse in her hometown of St. Catharines in Ontario, Canada, Victoria Hall treated patients who suffered from the same chronic health conditions that are prevalent in the general population, including heart disease, diabetes, COPD and obesity.
“All of these health conditions can be prevented or improved through healthy behaviors such as healthy eating and exercise,” she said. “Despite having this knowledge, many patients found it difficult to incorporate such behaviors into their lifestyle, even if it would lead to an improvement in their health. This led me to develop an interest in studying public health, since I would have the opportunity to learn about disease prevention—as opposed to treatment—as well as the factors that promote and hinder healthy behaviors in populations.”
Ready for a new career path, Hall chose to attend UB for an MPH with a concentration in community health and health behavior.
“The small class sizes gave each student the opportunity to develop personal relationships with each of their professors, and faculty members were easily accessible outside of class time,” she said. “My fellow students were very friendly, helpful and supportive of one another. Discussions in which we explored students’ various experiences and points of view were encouraged, and my perspective as a Canadian student was often sought out, especially in discussions regarding the health care system."
“My favorite aspect of the MPH program was the large number of opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills gained through our courses outside the classroom,” she said. “Many volunteer, research assistant and internship positions were readily available to students with various interests seeking opportunities for professional development. Through these opportunities I was able to gain real-world, practical experience in my area of interest, which is health disparities.”
Hall also had high praise for UB’s International Student and Scholar Services and the office’s efforts in easing her transition in becoming a UB student. “They were readily available to assist students seeking information and services related to immigration, housing, employment, adjusting to life in Buffalo, and much more,” she said.
The comprehensive background in public health philosophy coupled with the practical experience and knowledge will, according to Hall, help her achieve her career goals. “My ideal career path would involve working in disadvantaged, low-income, minority communities to improve health and minimize disparities through community-based research, program development and community outreach activities.”