Sara Mar, BS Environmental Health '17

2017 Alumni Sara Mar

How did your degree prepare you for your career?

Even though I don’t work in environmental health, my degree definitely prepared me for PHAP by equipping me with the skills to be successful in whatever public health career path I choose to pursue. For example, the coursework in the environmental health program refined my ability to think critically and analytically. These are two skills I use a lot in my current job for projects such as evaluating grants and utilizing data and mapping tools for disaster planning. Additionally, I completed a lot of group projects in all my environmental health courses, which helped me become a better communicator and team player. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be able to work with many different personality types to complete a project!

Please tell us about your career path so far, starting with your first job after graduation and leading to where you work now.

I vividly remember the day I landed my first job after graduation. At the time I was traveling abroad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when I received the e-mail that I was accepted into the CDC’s Public Health Associate Program (PHAP)! I was overjoyed to be starting this two-year fellowship, which places recent graduates in public health agencies across the country to provide hands-on experience and cultivate professional development. I was placed at the Ohio Department of Health, where I work jointly in the Office of Health Preparedness and the Office of Health Equity. Although I knew very little about disaster preparedness, I was eager to learn more about it and cultivate my passion for health equity. 

What do you like best about your current position?

In general, one of the best parts of working in public health is being able to wear many different hats. At my current job, I like that one day I could be doing informatics and mapping, and the next day be engaged in a minority health committee meeting. Being a PHAP fellow has given me the flexibility and opportunity to develop skills in many aspects of public health that has helped me grow as a young professional in the field.

Any advice for current students who are considering Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences?

Be open to new experiences! Even though I had to move to a completely different part of the country and had little knowledge of emergency preparedness, I knew that no matter what, I would learn and grow from the journey. Take all the opportunities you can to challenge yourself and explore all your interests. Focus on adding skills to your toolbox, such as cultural competency and effective communication, that can be applied to environmental health, and public health more generally, so that you are well equipped no matter where you end up!