Caroline was a pre-med, Anthropology major who worked closely with the Global Health department, graduating last June. She was the driving force behind our Global Health Gun Violence Intervention Group and one of its founders.

Caroline has recently been accepted to Columbia University’s prestigious Master in Public Health program, in the department of Epidemiology. Starting in the Fall of 2015, she will be pursuing a certificate in Infectious Disease while at Columbia. We caught up with Caroline in the wake of this great news, and asked her to reflect on her time here and what advice she has for Global Health students. Congratulations Caroline!

What have you been up to since you left UCSD?

After completing my fellowship at the San Diego Zoo’s Wildlife Disease Labs, I traveled around Northern California, Germany and finally made my way back to New York City where I spent the fall working for the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. It was an awesome experience, working alongside some of the premier infectious disease specialists—some of which were much preoccupied by the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa.

While at CII, I studied how a child’s chance of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder was affected by the mother’s health during pregnancy. During the slower times of the project, I spent time collecting rats and mice within subway tunnels and projects around the city for a study mapping the different diseases carried by New York’s rodents.

In January, I moved out to Colorado and am working in a Patagonia shop and as ski instructor. Before I head to Columbia’s Masters program in Infectious Disease Epidemiology this fall, I’ll be back packing around Colorado, and working as a farm hand in Northern California.

What was your favorite aspect of the Global Health program at UCSD?

What’s not to like? There’s certain accessibility within UCSD’s Global Health program that’s not found many other places. The students and professors are role models. They have diverse opinions, outstanding work ethic and passion for the issues they study.

Favorite classes?

Global Health and Culture (ANSC148), Topics in Cultural Studies (LTCS52),  Conservation and the Human Predicament (ANBI132)

How do you feel being a Global Health student prepared you for your current and future plans?

UCSD is a tough university. Each student is responsible for his or her own safety net. While at times that can be intimidating and frustrating, I’ve found that the skills I acquired from being held accountable for my studies and interests on campus made me a stronger candidate for fellowships I’ve held. UCSD teaches you to be focused, steadfast and passionate.

UCSD is cutthroat—academically and socially. There were times when I felt a challenge like I never had before—my thoughts and ideas were questioned, and I saw what I thought to be rock-solid plans to be porous and problematic. But from those experiences, I learned the value of group input. The diversity of intellect at UCSD allows for stronger ideas to be cultivated and larger goals to be reached. All it takes is putting yourself into the whirlwind and accepting your own vulnerability.

What advice do you have for current or prospective Global Health students?

  • Find what makes you passionate, but do not rush the process. Passion leads to progress and confidence in action. Passion is the most effective weapon in a social arsenal—cultivating success, allowing for adventure and separating the warriors from the disingenuous.

  • Be tenacious in your goals. Forgive your mistakes—they often bring the best adventures.  Seek quality in intention, conviction in action and move forward with a healthy respect for the past.
  • Go abroad. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself.
  •  Be conscientious and proactive. Our actions influence how others think, behave and grow. We are products of those who came before us, students of those who act now and role models for those who follow in our footsteps.
  • Stand for those who cannot, unleash your ingenuity on the world awaiting your innovations. Shatter uncertainty and let your world open with wonder of the exquisite. Let life be exciting, let it be beautiful, let it be feral.
  • Ask questions and embark on journeys that find answers to questions you don’t yet have. Do not be afraid of uncertainty or doubt; let them push you to exceed your limits. You are about to set out upon the adventure of a lifetime, equipped with staggering knowledge, curiosity and skill.

Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun and enjoy what you do. You are the only one who can make yourself happy. You better do whatever it takes to make that happen.