Lyana Delgado (MPH 2017)

Public Health Associate – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Lyana Delgado

1. What inspired you to pursue an MPH degree?

Originally on the path of pursuing medicine, I took my first Community Health Course that introduced me to the realization that “one’s zip code can predict their overall quality of life and eventual health outcomes”, and I was hooked. Being a part of the solution that helps people learn the skills to prevent the problems before they even start, is one that fuels my desire to positively affect our communities. Making incremental yet substantial changes in the overall quality of life for all people, including traditionally unrepresented and marginalized populations, is why I decided to pursue my career in public health and be committed to building health equity. Being a social justice leader and public health advocate that empowers the community to choose the best route for their health through their own design not by someone else’s default, is why I decided to purse my Master of Public Health degree.

2. Why did you choose Illinois for your MPH?

As an undergraduate student in the College of Applied Health Sciences and researcher in the Aging and Diversity Lab in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, I was introduced to the BS-MPH program. Being a part of a tight knit cohort of students and faculty was extremely important to me to get the best out of my graduate experience, and receiving 2 degrees in 5 years was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

3. How did your Illinois MPH degree help prepare you to work in the field OR what were the highlights of your time in the MPH program?

The Practicum and Capstone experiences that I completed at the Chicago Department of Public Health, has been one of the most beneficial and comprehensive learning experiences for my public health career. It’s utilizing the lessons you’ve learned in the classroom and testing those skills out in the real world. Being able to work within a local health department and see the inner workings of the public health process through the local government lens is invaluable. Having the opportunity to create a systematic review, design a needs assessment, collect, analyze, and present data, and develop a policy action plan as a result of the findings has been truly rewarding and very impactful for my current role.

4. What is your current job, and what do you enjoy most about it?

As part of my work as a Public Health Associate, I help coordinate a Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, with over 40 organizations throughout Columbus to develop policies, systems, and environmental changes (PSEC) to positively affect the lives of pregnant women and children between the ages of 0-5 years. Through this, I have been able to be a part of a variety of great projects and initiatives including: a Targeted Marketing Initiative of the Food and Beverage Industry in Columbus that I created in collaboration with our coalition. This initiative has allowed me to work within the communities impacted and the decision-makers involved, changing the conversation from “Here’s what you got to do to be healthy” to “Here’s what these major food and beverage industries have been doing to you, to keep you from being healthy.” Seeing the impact that cultural humility, education, and PSEC has on developing strategies towards creating equitable change and momentum towards mobilizing communities, has brought me great joy in this work.

5. What advice do you have for current students OR prospective students?

Recognize that in the field of public health you may have to participate in different roles, even in your present position, like: being a data analyst, health educator, or even a program evaluator. Utilize the closeness, which is the MPH program at UIUC, to your advantage by engaging in conversation with the faculty to learn about the different career paths and ways you can use the content in the classes to further your career. Thanks to the Health Program Evaluation Course, I can confidently say that logic models have been so useful in my work!

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