Student Spotlight: Sarah King
In our Student Spotlight feature, students working with or honored by the Institute are highlighted. Sarah King is an MPH candidate with the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. She is completing her practicum requirements by working with the SCale Down Initiative.
Hometown: Cornelius, North Carolina
School: University of South Carolina (USC)
Major: Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (HPEB)
Degree pursued: Master of Public Health (MPH)
Expected Graduation: May 2018
How did you become interested in public health/medicine?
I was fortunate to attend Furman University for my undergraduate degree where I double majored in both History and Health Sciences. I was first introduced to the field of public health as a Health Science major by taking courses that expanded my knowledge in subject areas such as epidemiology, global health, and community health. I thoroughly enjoyed the information that I was learning within my courses, but it was the opportunities that I received outside of the classroom that solidified my desire to pursue public health as a career. It was through various internships, fellowships, and research opportunities that I was able to see the impact that program implementation and evaluation can have on the health and well-being of a population, and as a result grew a passion for improving the health of individuals within a community setting.
What areas of public health/medicine are you most interested in and why?
I am most interested in community health development, which includes changes to policies, systems, and environmental strategies to promote a specific health behavior. I have taken a particular interest in studying the built environment (i.e. sidewalks, trails, parks, etc.) and how it may impact physical activity levels among a community population. Personally, I have done a great deal of work in assessing walkability and bikeability within a university campus setting, and hope to use this knowledge in other specific areas within the field.
What are your future plans?
After completing my degree in May, I hope to become a program coordinator/manager within a health coalition or organization. I thoroughly enjoy working with community members who benefit from health programs, but as well as partners who have invested time and resources into a project. I am looking very forward to working with all stakeholders on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of various health programs throughout my career. As part of this role, I hope to build and sustain relationships with a diverse group of partners through effective communication on the improvements being made to the health and well-being in a population.
If you weren’t studying public health, what would you study?
As I stated earlier, I double majored in History and Health Sciences during my undergraduate degree and absolutely loved both subjects. If I had not pursued public health, I believe that I would have continued studying history as a graduate degree. I take great interest in studying the past to further understand how it has impacted the present and possibly the future. I truly believe that history has the ability to repeat itself unless there are changes in policy or behavior. I see many similarities to public health and history, and view a critical part of a public health practitioner’s role is to research the past in order to understand the current health status so that effective change can be made to promote a healthier future.
Who do you consider your mentor/greatest inspiration and why?
I personally consider my greatest inspiration to be my grandfather who has overcome a great number of challenges in his life but continues to live with the same love and devotion each day toward helping others. He has always encouraged me to pursue opportunities that will allow me to grow as an individual, and has given me the capability to do so with no limitations. He is a loved and well respected man within his community, and one that I am truly grateful to have as a mentor within my life.
When you aren’t studying or working, what are your favorite activities?
In addition to my school and work responsibilities, I enjoy traveling, running, watching movies, and spending time with friends.