Maternal & Child Health


MCH Leadership Scholars, 2019-2020

MPH Student, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

I chose to focus on MCH because I am passionate about addressing adverse childhood experiences as early as possible to minimize their impact across the life course.

My future goals are to make a lasting impact in fighting the current opioid epidemic affecting our country, particularly in the areas of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and Maternal Opioid Use Disorder. I currently work with the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative on their Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome initiative, addressing variability of NAS management. I hope to work to reduce stigma surrounding substance abuse, especially in mothers, to allow for a more compassionate approach to issues with addiction.

MPH Student, Epidemiology and Global Health Practice

I am passionate about reducing the burden of cancer throughout the world and finding innovative strategies for cancer care and prevention. I have several research interests pertaining to cancer, particularly female reproductive cancers.  I wish to conduct research to find ways that HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening can be sustainably implemented in developing countries. I also wish to contribute to research addressing the benefits of physical activity for cancer patients and survivors. My final research interest involves finding new ways to detect ovarian cancers earlier.

After the completion of my Master of Public Health degree, I plan to continue on to earn a PhD in Epidemiology and one day contribute to the exciting field of cancer research.

Doctoral Student, Community and Family Health

My career in maternal child health began in the late 1990s when I became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at the Florida Department of Health in Miami. For 20 years, I served the breastfeeding needs of low-income families in Miami, as a clinician and as a leader and supervisor in my WIC program. As a Hispanic and daughter of Cuban immigrants, I developed a deep commitment to the Hispanic and immigrant families I was serving in Miami.

My enduring commitment is to make a difference for low income families—especially Hispanic and immigrant families—on a national scale, with emphasis on the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. My dissertation research will explore the etiology and development of the most common cause of early weaning among low-income women: perceived milk insufficiency.

My future goals are to create change for low-income and immigrant families through research, teaching, and leadership, and to help address the disparities in access to skilled lactation care by helping to expand the preparation of skilled lactation care providers into the college setting.

MPH Student, Epidemiology and Global Communicable Disease

Growing up in a single parent household where in some weeks, soup was all we could afford, tested my family’s foundation.  This helped me develop my passion to understand and strengthen child well-being factors among the most vulnerable of populations.

My research interests include understanding the social determinants that surround pregnant women, children, and families’ at-risk for contracting and transmitting infectious diseases. For example, among orphan and vulnerable children (OVC), the relationship between HIV and food insecurity exacerbates the susceptibility and gravity of both conditions. Female OVC specifically are at an increased risk for living with food insecurities and HIV; decreasing these issues can in turn protect women against prostitution and reduce mother-to-child transmission rates.

During my time in Uganda, my heart ached to see these problems so strongly persist throughout the country. My research there not only solidified my desire to specialize in MCH populations but also sparked a fire to contribute to international health.

Domestically, I am administering HIV testing and providing education to individuals through counseling in the Tampa Bay area. My long-term career goals include working for an NGO that directly impacts child well-being or empowering women and their reproductive rights.

MPH Student, Maternal and Child Health

I chose to pursue a career in maternal and child health because of two important events during my college career. The first, was when I attended a conference and saw a documentary film called “A Walk to Beautiful” on the preventable childbirth injury known as an obstetric fistula. This conference opened my eyes to the field of public health and how people can dedicate their lives to make a difference in the lives of others. The second event was being given the opportunity to volunteer international in a hospital in the Dominican Republic, serving those who were underserved and underprivileged. These events shaped my interests and honed my passion to pursue a career in maternal and child health because I knew there was something I could do to make an impact.

My research interests include health disparities such as in maternal and infant mortality, improving access to healthcare and health delivery, health equity, and the health sciences. I have worked in a variety of environments in public health, scientific research, and the medical field as well as volunteered in different healthcare settings.

My future goals are to earn a medical degree and become a family medicine or women’s health physician who works with national and international organizations in the US and in developing countries. I want to work to improve health outcomes for all mothers, children, and families.

MPH Student, Health Education

With a background in sociology and women’s studies, I’ve always had a passion for women’s health issues. For more than a decade I worked at the University of Hawaii where I focused on tobacco control and health promotion. My other work experience includes the Florida Birth Defects Registry at USF, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, language acquisition and literacy development with migrant families in the Pacific, and national efforts to promote LGBTQ health equity. My areas of expertise include project management, health policy development, grassroots organizing, community empowerment, media literacy, and counter-marketing.

Entering this next stage of my career I am able to see how prior experiences and current opportunities intersect. My personal journey with motherhood has validated my commitment to pursue what I feel is one of the most important functions of public health: ensuring the well-being of women and their children during some of the most crucial and vulnerable points in life.

My long-term research interests explore the connections between intimate partner violence, exposure to sexually transmitted infections, and birth outcomes. I maintain a commitment to community-based participatory research and aim to continue to develop my qualitative skills. Moving forward I envision a professional role that allows me to act as a bridge between research and practice in the areas of IPV, family violence prevention, and systems change.

Past Scholars

  • Tara Foti
    PhD Student, Community and Family Health
  • Rachel Logan
    PhD Student, Community and Family Health
  • Eden Cunningham
    MPH Candidate, Public Health Education
  • Mary Hill
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health
  • Zaire Totty
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Kimberly Hailey
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Maria My-Phuong Huynh
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Grace Liggett
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Estefania Rubio
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Manuela Thomas
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Maryouri Avendano
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Shana Geary
    MPH Candidate, Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health

  • Nanah Fofanah
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Stacey Griner
    PhD Student, Public Health

  • Nathanael Stanley
    DrPH Student, Maternal and Child Health

  • Laketa Entzminger
    MPH Candidate, Socio-health Sciences

  • Jessica Gipson
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Amelia Phillips
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Ariana Bentz
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Mahmooda Khaliq Pasha
    DrPH Student, Maternal and Child Health

  • Jeannese Castro, BA
    MPH Candidate, Maternal and Child Health

  • Nicole Demetriou, MSN
    MPH candidate, Global Health Practice

  • Salem Mengistu, BA, BS
    MPH candidate, Global Health Practice

  • Laura Merrell, MPH, CPH
    PhD Student

  • Lindsay Womack, MPH
    PhD Student

  • Erika Thompson
    PhD, 2016

  • Latrice Holt
    MPH, 2014

  • Randi McCallian
    MPH, 2014

  • Latoya Hill
    MPH, 2013

  • Elizabeth Baker

  • Erica Hesch Anstey
    PhD, 2013

  • Nicole Brasseur
    MPH, 2013

  • Emily A. Dunn
    MA/MPH, 2013

  • Aimee Eden
    MPH/PhD, 2012

  • Alison Nelson
    MPH, 2012

  • Jennifer Marshall
    PhD, 2013

  • Paul Milford
    MSW, 2013

  • Megan McLaughlin
    MPH, 2012

  • Jordana Frost
    CLC, MPH, 2011

  • Natalie Rella

  • Terry Ann Harriott

  • Melissa Mercado-Crespo
    PhD, 2012

  • Natalie Hernandez
    PhD, MCH/EPI, 2012

  • Anthony D. Panzera
    PhD, MCH/EPI, 2014