Student Spotlight: Natalie Bonilla

Published: March 10th, 2016

Category: Student Spotlight

photo 1Transitioning from an average biology major on the pre-medical track to a Health Science student on the pre-public health track was one of the most rewarding accidents thus far—a brilliant accident. I had no prior knowledge of what public health was, but being admitted to its track was anything short of coincidence. To simplify, it was a metamorphosis to something bigger and wiser that would transform energy into a greater purpose: the betterment of the physical, mental, environmental, social and behavioral health of the population. My name is Natalie Bonilla, and I am a senior in the Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) program. I aspire to attend graduate school for a Master of Public Health with a biostatistics and/or epidemiology concentration, and to expand my love for public health.

I am currently a research assistant for two separate projects. Under the guidance of Brecht Devleesschauwer, I research the importance of prenatal care and prevention for pregnant women and women of childbearing age against Toxoplasmosis. Through existing recommendations, prevalence studies and knowledge, awareness and practices studies of this population, the purpose of this research utilizes the global invasiveness of Toxoplasmosis and the necessary steps to avoid its acquisition. I also work with my research associate, Sabrina Harinandan (BHS student), on the health literacy of college-age students utilizing social media. The aim is to identify the impact and importance of social media on the healthcare field, and how this population utilizes it for better health management. Health education is the forefront of both of these research projects that emphasize the importance of primary prevention to cultivate greater health-seeking behavior. These two populations I study are personal and important to me as they empower women, including myself, and their health, and also focus on my age-specific cohort and their generational impact on public health in the near future.

St. Francis House (SFH), a homeless shelter and transitional home, is where you can find me volunteering on a weekly basis. SFH helps clients and visitors with their basic necessities by providing food, clothing and shelter. Along with my other fellow peer and dear friend, Carolina De La Rosa Mateo (BHS student), we have coordinated a donation drive, dinner night and mental health week that raise the importance of serving the community and their needs—physical and mental.

I also have other passions and hobbies. I merge my creative side with every facet of my life. This is expressed through my love for traveling, music, nature, design, photography and everything that is color and glitter.