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SUNY Downstate Medical Center


Public Health for a Global Community


Meet Our Students

SUNY Downstate SPH Student Spotlight


Doctor of Public Health candidate

Obinna Akano, MPH

Concentration in Epidemiology

  Doctoral student implements a vision-screening program in Nigeria.

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Natalie Octave, MPH

Concentration in Community HealthSciences

  Learn how the School of Public Health gave one student the skills and the confidence to advance from being a patient recruiter for clinical trials to an active researcher. 

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JoAnn DiLernia

Concentration in Community Health Science

What brought you to the field of Public Health and prompted you to pursue a Doctor of Public Health degree?

I became passionate about improving the health of women, which lead me to a BS in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health/Community Health Education and a second major in Women’s Studies with a focus on Gender, Sexuality, and Public Health. That’s when I fell in love with Public Health.

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Donell Harvin

Concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health Science

What brought you to the field of Public Health and prompted you to pursue a Doctor of Public Health degree?

I have worked in the health field for 20 years, starting out as a paramedic working in underserved communities, specifically Brooklyn and the immediate area around SUNY Downstate. I saw public health as a higher calling and a way to affect more lives and serve a greater population than just one patient at a time.

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Master of Public Health Program

Karla A. Ortiz Garcia, MPH

Concentration in Epidemiology

While I decided which dental schools I wanted to apply to, I worked toward an Advanced Certificate of Public Health at SUNY Downstate because it was a one-year informative certification and it was in New York. After finishing this certification, I decided to complete the full Master of Public Health program because I enjoyed the environment and academic opportunities it provided me, such as gaining first-hand experience working with underserved communities through the NYSDOH Cancer Services Program.

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Leah Timbang, MPH

Concentration in Community Health Sciences

Wanting to go into the medical field to serve disadvantaged populations. In order to provide the best and most efficient care for my future patients, I knew that I needed to understand the social, political, and cultural context they were in. So I decide to obtain my master’s in public health in order to learn these concepts in an academic setting and gain experience working in these situations.

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Susan Law, MD, MPH

Concentration in Epidemiology

The rigor and quality of teaching in the MPH program at SUNY Downstate has helped me approach questions related to quality improvement, optimizing workflow and applying the findings of clinical trials with much more confidence and ease. My training prepared me to design and implement research to optimize our clinical approaches.

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Kimberly Huggins

Concentration in CommunityHealth Sciences

  HIV research with the School of Public Health and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health.

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Lisel Hope, MD

Concentration in Health Policy and Management

  Field experience at the School of Public Health leads one student to develop a non-profit to improve diabetes awareness in the Caribbean.

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Here is what our students say
about the MD / MPH Program


Francesca Decker: "I'm doing the 4 year concurrent degree which is very challenging, but I'm also very excited about having it all done in four years. I think it's going to be a real benefit for residency."

Simon Fitzgerald: "I think that the MPH gives me the tools in which to be able to understand how to organize medical resources on a community level, especially for underserved communities."

Elisabeth Lessenich: "It's truly very easy to combine these two degrees at Downstate. The MPH advisors help you tailor the program and help you so you can combine classes and field work to get exactly what you want out of this."

Malini Persad: "I considered the combined MD/MPH Program as one of the most positive academic experiences I have had."