Student Spotlight: Rebekah Schwartz

Published: January 23rd, 2017

Category: Front Page Slider, Student Spotlight

Since my first day at the University of Florida, I have been challenged to find my passion. UF has introduced me to field of study that I have fallen in love with – the field that has challenged me to relentlessly pursue the person I am today. My name is Rebekah Schwartz and I am a Public Health major with double minors in Health Disparities and International Development & Humanitarian Assistance.  I am passionate about health equity, community health education, and the elimination of health disparities.  I am a firm believer that health is a human right and as a society, we have a responsibility to ensure this right to every individual.  After graduation, I plan to pursue a Master’s in Public Health, specializing in Global Health or Epidemiology. My long-term goal is work for federal government in disaster preparedness and response, specifically focusing on community engagement.

This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to study at Columbia University at Mailman’s School of Public Health and intern with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene through the CDC funded Summer Public Health Scholars Program. While watching Wicked on Broadway and eating the most extravagant milkshake in SoHo, I was exposed to the many concentrations in Public Health through my professors and colleagues in the Big Apple. I worked with the Center for Health Equity focusing on Community Health Worker initiatives in four of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City. Working with Community Health Workers and different disciplines of Public Health opened my eyes to disparities among different population groups. This experience solidified my choice in pursuing a career in Public Health and directed me to consider community approaches with regards to improving health conditions and outcomes.

Inspired by my experiences last summer, I submitted a proposal on the importance of Community Health Workers to the Challenge 2050 One World project here at University of Florida. Challenge 2050 is an initiative that aims to solve global issues from climate change to water and food shortage to health care in 2050 with a population exceeding 9 billion people.  During the One World conference in February, I will be advocating the utilization of Community Health Workers in solving global health issues of the future. By training individuals in the most at risk communities, we equip the communities with the knowledge and education to combat future health problems.

When I am not reading over the latest Public Health news, you can find me giving campus tours and working with the UF Alumni Association (UFAA) as a Florida Cicerone. Cicerones have given me the incredible opportunity to welcome prospective students and families to the university and to interact with alumni during gamedays. This year, I served as the Club Tailgate Chair, where I assisted the UFAA in organizing Gator Nation Tailgates for alumni during the 2016 football season.  Besides Cicerones, I assist in research with the Department of Veterans Affairs in rural health focusing in improving access to health to rural communities. In addition, I serve as an Honors Ambassadors for the UF Honors Program where I assist in first year engagement for first year Honors students and introducing the Honors Program to prospective Honors students from all over the nation.

I am beyond blessed to have the most supportive families and friends. I would not be the person I am today without their unwavering support and love. The University of Florida has given me so many opportunities to grow and learn. I love being part of school that strives for excellence and keeps its traditions since 1853. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else! As always, Go Gators and Go Public Health!