Combining health and politics

Emily Toma ’19 designs public health major

Independent major: Public health, with minor in politics

The right direction: “I came into college knowing what I wanted to do in life but with no idea how to get there. I wanted to go into health education and advocacy. I considered majors in education, sociology and many other areas to get me there. In speaking with my First-Year Seminar professor, I realized that an independent major in public health was the best way to get where I wanted to go.”

The foundation: “I want to go into health education and advocacy, possibly exploring the health care lobbying side of the public health field. I have combined my public health major with a minor in political science, which will give me a policy perspective as well as a public health problem-solving perspective.”

Words to live by: “I believe that every human being deserves to have access to the tools to live a long and healthy life. If you do not have your health, it is that much harder to do the things in life that you want to. Health care can only do so much; preventing illness and injury from happening in the first place will really help people live their best lives. I am passionate about empowering people to make educated choices, and that is what public health is about.”

Experiential learning: “I had the opportunity to have an internship with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. I was able to participate in community events, campaigning and fundraising, and gain experience in many areas of public health. My experience there helped solidify that this is what I am truly passionate about and got me excited to see where else this major can take me.

Rising to the challenge: “Creating your own major is very challenging. It requires coordinating between a team of advisors, professors, deans and the provost to get the proposal approved within a limited time period. I have learned to be a better problem solver, both from my classes and from this process.”

>> Read about other students who are designing their own course of study