Rachel Rizzo was always interested in human health and an undergraduate course in epidemiology sparked her interest in the population aspect. “This course made me realize the importance of health promotion and disease prevention versus disease treatment,” she explained.
After deciding to further her education with a master’s degree in epidemiology, the Buffalo native did not have to look far to find a program that met all of her needs.
“UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions is accredited, which is important when looking for a quality education in public health and when thinking long-term about employment,” she said. “There are also a broad range of interests among faculty members with lots of research opportunities for students.”
For the research-intensive program, Rizzo completed a thesis examining the longitudinal association between periodontal disease and physical function in postmenopausal women enrolled in the Buffalo Osteo-Perio study, ancillary to the Women’s Health Initiative.
“I worked with a committee to determine my hypotheses and tested them through epidemiological research. This process took what was learned in the classroom about epidemiological methods and statistics, and added more of a real-world component,” she said.
“What I enjoyed most about the MS program was the quality of the education. The SPHHP has a diverse faculty, each of whom can add a key component to your overall education. There were also many faculty members truly passionate about epidemiology and educating students to be the best public health professionals they can be.”
She completed the MS program in 2012 and enrolled in the department’s MPH in health services administration program. She selected this degree to prepare her for “translating epidemiological research into public health practice.”
Since graduating with her MPH, she joined UB’s Primary Care Research Institute as a research associate/practice facilitator. She also became a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), and is teaching undergraduate courses at two local colleges.