Marcy Lake, DO

Health Services Excellence, Equity and Distinction Award
MPH student, Online MPH Program
Fort Collins, CO (currently living in Portland, OR)

What interested you in studying public health and why are you passionate about it? 

The COVID pandemic inspired me to refocus my career as a primary care physician on the factors that affect the health of communities. Even though I completed medical school, I had little understanding of what creates a healthy community, so getting a master’s degree in public health would help me learn this while providing a foundation for a career shift in the future. 


What’s your favorite aspect about studying public health and why? 

I am continually amazed at how much work is being done on local and regional levels to improve the lives of people in the U.S. and around the world. Some of my favorite classes have been those on the social determinants of health, structural racism and environmental health. 


How do you want to change the world with your degree? 

When I see patients at my family medicine clinic, there is very little I can do that will affect the trajectory of their life. I can help them control their high blood pressure and diabetes or encourage young parents to vaccinate kids. But the neighborhood they grew up in has the most impact on their life, for example, whether they were impoverished, experienced adverse childhood events, or if they were affected by structural racism. I hope that my degree will enable and empower me to influence these upstream structures to improve their chances of avoiding chronic disease. 


What experiences at the UW SPH have been most influential? 

The professors are wonderful. I have been thrilled with their teaching skills and the investment in my learning. During the times that I have felt overwhelmed, there was someone I could reach out to for support, even as a distance/online learner. There is a wealth of resources available, and they are easy to access. 


Why did you choose the UW? 

The University of Washington has a good reputation in public health and it seemed like the Online Master of Public Health Program was comprehensive even though it was virtual. In researching various programs, I felt that this one had the best focus on leadership and academic advancement. 


What interests do you have outside of (or related to) public health? Any extracurricular activities?  

I enjoy raising two humans with my husband, playing/coaching/watching soccer (go Portland Thorns!), running, gardening, reading, cycling, hiking, skiing and rock climbing. 


What is one piece of advice that you have for potential new public health students or one thing you wish you knew before beginning your public health studies?  

UW’s MPH offering is a really great program and if you are wondering if the workload will be worth it, I can tell you it is. I work full time and have two children and while it has not been easy, it is doable — even in two years!