From Red Cross to Prevail: TCSPP alumna puts her Public Health degree to use
Nupur Raval already had a passion for community health, but she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do about it.
While working with a group in a research lab focused on microbiology, she found herself intrigued by health care on a larger scale.
“I found that helping students understand things, working with them, and leading them was something I really enjoyed,” Raval says.
That’s when the Chicago native decided to pursue TCSPP’s M.A. in Public Health with a concentration in Public Health Leadership. One of the biggest lessons that she immediately realized when entering the program was how broad the field is and how quickly she would be exposed to health topics she’d had no previous knowledge of.
“One professor, Dr. Mudita Dave, talked about childhood obesity and I studied what she’d done,” Raval says. “And that was an area I didn’t have any experience in. I was able to actually use her discussion notes as assistance for a course project on the South Asian population, which I’m a part of.”
Due to the flexibility of the online program, she was also able to schedule her online classroom hours so they didn’t conflict with her Health Services internship with the American Red Cross. During the internship—and in addition to attending health conferences—Raval delved into a hands-on experience of assisting people in a variety of ways: aiding nurses in providing medication, water, and pamphlets to participants; teaming up to clean up after a natural disaster; and working with individuals to set up resources for shelters and centers.
“Public health focuses a lot on the core,” Raval says. “When people usually think of health care, they picture doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. Public health concentrates on what would happen before that. What’s going to cause X to happen? What steps can we take to stop that? How do we explain to people that X will create Y?
“Also, how do we effectively communicate with diverse groups? It’s totally different talking to someone who is 16 and unsure of what’s going on health wise versus someone who is in their 40s and has health insurance and doesn’t need parental consent to go to an ER.”
In Public Health courses, Raval learned how to approach different demographics and make them feel more comfortable discussing health concerns. In some of the environments she interned with, there was still a stigma about seeking mental health care and finding health care professionals who these groups would trust.
The 2016 Chicago School graduate is now using her master’s at Prevail Health. Prevail provides individualized one-on-one support, training, and resources for people living with depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. The Chicago-based health care technology company also has an online system that provides support to people through online chats—an area in which TCSPP students are trained.
In Raval’s role as a community manager, she takes advantage of her enthusiasm about the ongoing and new population of online mental health resources.
Her concentration in Public Health Leadership is utilized to guide team members in working with the community. Using specific guidelines, training documents, online testing assessments, and evaluations, she helps to examine whether individuals in each role are fulfilling Prevail’s health goals.
“Although I am not a health care provider or a doctor, I help people connect to these programs,” Raval says. “I use things that I learned in school about health communication to focus on helping specific populations. My goal is to help individuals find the best resources that would be able to help them prevail.”