Joana Dizon

Photo
Degrees
Public Health-Global Health Major
Hometown
Lacey, WA (born in Pampanga, Philippines)

Why did you decide to major in public health?

After graduating high school, I spent a year in Ecuador where I lived alongside an indigenous community. The immersive experience exposed me to many facets of their culture and it also allowed me to witness the social inequities that gave rise to major health disparities. When I returned home, I realized how prevalent those inequities were across borders. My gap year pushed me to find a discipline that explores the factors feeding into these disparities, and how we could go about addressing them systemically.

Why are you passionate about public health?

The field offers multiple opportunities to create long-lasting change, for example in public policy, epidemiological research, clinical work or medical and technical fields. No matter which route I choose, I know public health has equipped me with the foundational skills to pursue equitable and ethical work.

What do you find most interesting about the field?

The interdisciplinary aspect – bridging the gap between the social and natural sciences is essential in understanding how certain groups are more vulnerable than others to illness and disease.

What experiences at the UW have been most influential?

Joining the pre-health professional fraternity Delta Epsilon Mu. It introduced me to students on different health tracks who all share the same sentiment about transforming the current health system. I’m also a peer health educator at the UW, and I've have been able to play a vital role in shaping health practices and attitudes in my immediate community. Furthermore, I've been able to take a variety of courses from anthropology, psychology, epidemiology to environmental science, which are taught by high-class professors with vast experiences.

Tell us about your other extracurricular activities.

I’m part of a student-led publication group on campus called Asian Americans in Media. As a member of the editorial committee, I helped curate the content for the group's second issue coming out in the spring!

What are your professional goals?

After I graduate, I plan on joining the Peace Corps and taking a few years to work and apply the things I've learned in the field. Eventually, I want to continue my education and pursue an MPH with a focus on epidemiology. Then it's off to medical school, where I look forward to specializing in pediatrics. 

What’s one piece of advice you have for prospective students?

Take a course that will introduce you to the core concepts of public health, for instance global health or anthropology! The more you understand the major messages and primary goals of the field, the better you can gauge if the study is right for you. It will also assist you in your application for the major. You'll be able to articulate what the major means to you and how you expect to contribute.

Can you share an interesting or unique fact about yourself?

Last fall, I visited the Middle East for the first time! I spent the quarter in Amman, Jordan, where I studied the refugee crisis and interned for Save the Children Jordan.