During her undergraduate days pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology, Jumel Grace Ola pondered on vacation days about pursuing a humanitarian project in Latin America. But after a boot camp injury while in the Marines, her interest in health and science began to grow, and so did her pursuit of a public health degree from TCSPP.
During the recovery stage of a boot camp injury at Parris Island in 2001, Ola learned quite a bit about health and science. After being discharged, she decided to return to college to take a health science class, in which she was formally introduced to public health and The Chicago School.
“My previous work at the Women’s Health Clinic in San Francisco, experience working in an outpatient clinic with orthopedic doctors in DuPage, Ill., and my current job as support for our small and rural hospitals’ health policy team solidified my decision to finally specialize in Public Health,” Ola says. “I liked Public Health’s holistic approach to an individual’s health. It really takes a community to keep one person healthy. There are biological, socio-economic, environmental, mental, and even political factors to deeply consider when we talk about health maintenance and improvement.”
Her 2007 bachelor’s degree in biology and study abroad program afterward came in handy while studying for the online M.A. in Public Health program with a specialization in Leadership. After earning her B.A., she moved to Spain for seven months to fully immerse herself in Spanish culture. Her conversational Spanish was utilized while working with migrant workers from Latin America on worker’s compensation cases by the time she graduated from TCSPP in 2016. The bachelor’s degree in biology and three years volunteering for Maitri Hospice Center caring for people living with HIV/AIDS gave her a better understanding of the pathogenesis of communicable diseases.
“Because I was a teacher for over 10 years, I believe in the power of patient education,” Ola says. “Teaching is a great avenue to influence someone’s lifestyle. I like to use sketches and anatomical models to explain how the human body works. When promoting patient compliance, I rely on statistics. I learned how to assess someone’s educational level so I knew how to properly communicate with them in a manner that was respectful and understandable.”
Her day-to-day activities vary now as a Constituency Specialist for metro and rural hospitals. One day she may convene with high-profile hospital CEOs to discuss important legislative initiatives. Other days she may collaborate on a webinar for best health care practices.
For other students who may be interested in TCSPP’s Public Health degree program, one piece of advice Ola wished she’d followed as a first-year student was “to look for Public Health jobs even before the master’s program began so I could have had a more concrete career road map as to what skills to focus on while I still had access to my professors and lecture materials.”
And although Ola took the scenic route to her current career field, she’s created a road map of her own. She is now enrolled in certification classes to continue to sharpen her own skills in research methodology, measurement and testing, analysis of variance and survey sampling, and technical use of computer programs/applications software for statistical analysis and graphics presentation.
While she builds on her professional aspirations, there is one personal goal she’s set no matter what role she’s in.
“Working at the Maitri Hospice Center was a practical as well as an awakening experience,” Ola says. “In addition to setting realistic goals for end-of-life care that benefit the patient and the family, I also developed a closer bond with my own friends and loved ones. It is important to demonstrate our affection to those who provide meaning in our lives while we are still physically and mentally able. I can be very action-focused and goal-oriented but then forget to reach out to friends and family at times. You can never take back time once lost. Nowadays, I make a schedule for people I need to see or call and make every attempt to do it on a regular basis.”
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