Graduating into the World of Public Health

A young woman in a graduation robe pose for a photo outside of a stadium.

By Kenna Caprio

May 20, 2024 — Nathalia Gomez, BS’24 (Metro), is off to Atlanta, Ga., for a public health internship this summer at Morehouse College.

“The John R. Lewis Scholars Imhotep Project is an 11-week program for minority students, designed to enhance their knowledge and skills in biostatistics, epidemiology and health,” says Gomez. “After I complete the program, I’m headed to North Carolina to work on a research project at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. And then I plan on getting a master’s degree in public health.”

Gomez graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College with an associate degree in biomedical science, and then transferred to FDU to major in health studies. Since then, she’s immersed herself thoroughly in research and internship opportunities.

Through an internship with Rutgers University’s Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, Gomez worked on a research project at University Hospital in Newark, N.J., and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. to increase breast cancer screenings in vulnerable populations. As a patient navigator, she identified women eligible for breast cancer screenings; engaged and educated patients on the importance of screenings and early detection; and referred them to partner programs to schedule their mammograms.

Once the internship ended, she continued with the research, in a leadership role as a project support assistant for Rutgers’ Office of Population Health, managing data for more than 400 patients; serving as a translator and interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients; and connecting them with partner programs.

Portrait of a young woman wearing a blazer and standing outside among flowering foliage.

“Seeing tangible improvements in breast cancer screening outcomes in underserved populations has been incredibly rewarding and has reinforced my passion for public health,” says Gomez.

“Public health goes beyond medical records and considers the well-being of entire communities. Understanding this broader perspective is crucial for addressing health disparities and promoting overall population health.”

She’s proud of all she’s accomplished as an undergraduate student — from her on-campus involvement with the Pre-Health Professionals Club and the Organization of Latin Americas to maintaining a high GPA and adjusting to life as a first-generation student.

“I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever imagined. I experienced challenging times, marked by self-doubt, but I was able to prioritize my mental health and seek support through FDU’s student counseling and psychological services. I really value the relationships with faculty and classmates that I’ve built here over the past two years. They will remain close to my heart beyond graduation.”

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