Makayla Ndamele graduated in 2021, then began working as a Program Associate at UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity.
Why did you decide to major in public health?
I was originally on a journey towards the clinical field. I took the general chemistry and almost all of the biology series before I realized I was just going through the motions of checking off boxes. I wasn’t taking what I was learning to heart. I eventually met with a public health adviser and took a global health seminar, and I instantly felt connected to the topics. I was happy. Public health is that niche that allows me to use my background in science while also understanding upstream determinants of health.
Why are you passionate about public health?
With public health, I see how the work being done in the field impacts real people. Learning about various interventions and policies makes me feel connected the world around me.
How did you find your way to the UW?
The UW gave me the perfect opportunity to learn more about aspects of the Seattle environment that I never took advantage of. I value diversity and an urban environment. The UW gives me these elements while also allowing me to remain close to my family.
Tell us about your extracurricular activities.
I’m currently a part of the Undergraduate Community-Based Internship (UCBI), a paid internship program, and I’m interning at ROOTS Young Adult Shelter, serving young adults in the Seattle area who are experiencing homelessness. I’m also a research assistant on a project exploring how firms influence the federal nutrition guidelines.
What experiences at the UW have been most influential?
Simply being able to talk to and connect with people in discussion classes or through mentorship. Also, the support I received from public health advisers and mentorship through UCBI have been reassuring as I navigate life’s curveballs.
What are your professional goals?
I hope to work in an area that allows me to advocate for the prevention of disease and illness by defending the rights of different populations. Right now, I’m interested in public health policy or law, and I’m exploring the topics of race, homelessness and nutrition.
What’s one piece of advice you have for prospective students?
Use your failures to fuel your passions. Your failures can serve as learning experiences for personal and professional growth. They can aid you in discovering what you do not like to do. While it’s important to try to build experiences that you are good at and love, do not disregard the negative ones.
Can you share an interesting or unique fact about yourself?
I’ve been vegan for five years, and one place I’m most relaxed is the produce section of grocery stores.