Leading With a Heart for Public Health
A Public Health Career Journey
I chose to study Maternal, Child, and Family Health to help eliminate birthing disparities in Black and Brown communities.
Written by: Ani Antoine, Founder & CEO of Bloom Into Womanhood
Never in a million years would I have imagined I would attend a master of public health program. Some of you may know from a previous post (check it out here) that I didn't always want to study maternal and child health. I spent the majority of my life pursuing another career: Dentistry.
However, college is undoubtedly the time where students learn a lot about themselves and what they like. I found out that I hated biology, chemistry, and anything related to the two subjects. While I realized what I didn't like, I began to explore coursework and internships dealing with populations I always hoped to help: people of color, women, and infants.
My senior year was a time of exploration. I interned with the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill working to provide a narrative to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women's voting rights in the United States. I spoke with women from all over the state learning about the initiatives they were taking to make voting accessible to minority communities. Through this work, I came to understand the power women possess in society and how important it is to support young women and girls so that they grow into their full potential.
I also interned with WomenNC, an accredited NGO with the United Nations, and I spent my spring semester as a team member for a psychology lab at UNC studying Black girls and families. Both of these projects allowed me to focus on women's and girls' health and I was completely enamored with the subject material.
I loved learning about public health interventions and implementation science. I enjoyed working to remedy the health afflictions the population experienced. I wanted to study and learn how to best support women and girls in my own community, so I took a leap of faith and circled to a career in public health. I did my research and learned about master's programs where I found concentrations in maternal, child, and family health that existed for those passionate about the population.
Though I didn't want to be a dentist anymore, I still wanted to work in healthcare and I still wanted to have an impact on lives. Public Health was the best decision I made that encompassed all of my interests. I applied to two schools for my master's and was admitted to both!
My best advice to any woman of color is to keep exploring, be willing to learn your likes and dislikes. It takes time to get things right. If you're in college, you might not know what the next step is until or even after senior year. Don't be so hard on yourself; we're all learning and figuring ourselves out. Lead with your heart. Have faith in all that you do and everything will work out for the good.
When I was initially drawn to the field of public health, I often experienced a tug of war between my heart and logic. I was well aware that there was an extreme difference in pay between dentistry and public health, but I was constantly reminded that my heart is where God lives. Those passions I felt for women's health and families had become a physical, manifestation of what God had placed inside my heart. Those passions were of Him. I can rest assured that God will direct and lead me on this journey because it is where He would have me to go.
I am admittedly excited for this new era of my life and I can't wait to begin making a positive impact doing something I love. I wish for all of you reading to be inspired to take the next step in your career or educational journey. I hope that this work pushes you to pursue your passions and wildest dreams.
Peace & Love.
Blooming where planted.
Bloom Into Womanhood would like to thank you for reading our July Series:
"A Woman of Color's Guide to Graduate School"
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Meet the Founder, CEO, & Author: Ani Antoine
Photo Courtesy of Ani Antoine
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