Experiential learning opportunities provide foundation for public health career

March 30, 2022

Photo of Marisa Otis standing in front of Boston Children's Hospital

Whether on campus or half a world away, Marisa Otis ’17, embraced all that Quinnipiac had to offer as an undergraduate student. Along the way, she unlocked a love of learning and a passion for global public health.

Through her involvement in interdisciplinary academic course offerings, global learning opportunities and extracurricular activities, Otis was able to focus her career aspirations on the field of public health. After earning her bachelor’s degree in health science studies with minors in Spanish and global public health, she went on to earn a master’s in public health at Boston University, where she co-authored two scientific journal articles, a white paper and a chapter for the dean’s textbook, “Urban Health.”

“My Quinnipiac global public health foundation made me a strong applicant in the master’s program because I had already spent four years studying public health, which was not yet common at the undergraduate level,” said Otis. “The GPH program provided a strong support network from the staff to fellow students, and its interdisciplinary nature allowed me to take courses from many different schools and subject areas. In addition, my minor introduced core public health concepts and pushed me to think about health through a different lens.”

Otis is currently serving as the community health program coordinator with Boston Children's Hospital, where she is working to reduce health inequities through programs, services and partnerships.

During her time at Quinnipiac, she credits her leadership skill development to involvement in student organizations such as Model United Nations, where she served as a World Health Organization delegate. The experience inspired Otis to think about the social, economic and geopolitical factors that shape health.

She also took advantage of Quinnipiac’s global learning opportunities, with a study abroad semester in Costa Rica and a GPH international experience in Nicaragua. As a sophomore, she studied the rights-based approach to health care in Latin America and while in Leon, Nicaragua, she interned with Alianza Americana working alongside medical staff in rural health posts, community centers and a local hospital.

“I felt well-prepared for my international experiences, particularly because of my GPH core classes. Studying and experiencing universal healthcare systems firsthand was enlightening,” said Otis. “It pushed me to think critically about the U.S. healthcare system, which undervalues public health and preventative care while prioritizing profits and top technological advances.”

Locally, her internships included educating low-income families on nutrition with Cooking Matters in New Haven and a GPH learning-service program with Distressed Children International.

“Quinnipiac really lays the groundwork for any profession in the healthcare field and prepared me for continued academic success in graduate school and now in my career,” said Otis. “It was a proud moment—walking across that Quinnipiac stage—to have my unrelenting hard work recognized from start to finish. I’m glad I took the time to explore my options and interests at Quinnipiac.”

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