Hoa (Holly) Vo
Master of Public Health
Bachelor of Science, University of California, San Diego
Majors: Human Biology
Masters of Science in Teaching, PACE University
United States of America
MPH: Health Leadership and Management, with a focus on Maternal and Child Health
What are your career goals?
I look forward to combining skills from my Medical Degree and Masters of Science in Teaching, with a Masters in Public Health so that I may further my knowledge in areas of global health, health leadership and management, maternal and child health, and health in crisis. My long-term goal is to be involved in promoting health education and prevention, develop and manage public health interventions in a clinical setting in developing countries, and create sustainable health resources for vulnerable populations.
What sparked your interest in global health?
Growing up as the daughter of Vietnamese refugees struggling to make it in a new country, I knew from an early age that I wanted to give back and work with others in need. Although my parents wanted me to grow up in America so that I may have more educational opportunities, they also wanted me to have an understanding of our roots and the great need that exists in many areas of the world. We made frequent trips to Vietnam and the rest of Indochina, where we would visit distant family that continued to live in impoverished communities with the inability to voice their concerns due to fear of reprisal from the government. As an adult, I have been fortunate enough to address these issues through work in clinics in Mexico, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Peru, and Vietnam. In my perspective, global health represents an approach to social injustices wherever they occur, both at home and abroad. Before medical school, I taught math and science to underserved children in a Brooklyn middle school as a part of Teach For America (TFA). Through this experience, I realized that one of the main issues contributing to the achievement gap for students in low-income areas is their lack of access to adequate healthcare. Together, these formative experiences sparked my interest in global health.
How do you see yourself making a difference in public health because of the Global Health Scholarship?
The Global Health Scholarship will allow me to obtain an exceptional education in public health that will enable me to develop the skill set necessary to address social injustices both at home and abroad. A strong network of public health leaders will allow me to establish lifelong connections with faculty and peers whom share similar passions. Their mentorship will guide my career in public health and help me achieve my goal of expanding sustainable community healthcare services for vulnerable youth.
Who inspires you and why?
My inspiration and strength come from my family. My parents were born in Vietnam and experienced extreme hardships during the Vietnam War. The collapse of southern Vietnam led to dire economic conditions. My parents risked everything for their family and escaped the country as stowaways, hidden beneath the rafters of a small wooden boat. They eventually made the treacherous journey to Indonesia where they stayed in a refugee camp for two years waiting for a country to grant them asylum. They eventually made it to America. Although my parents were able to find political freedom and provide their children with more educational opportunities in America, they struggled living in a new country without knowledge of its language and customs. They could not afford health insurance and relied on distant, infrequent health clinics for free health screenings. These barriers that my family face and those that I’ve seen throughout the country and the world inspire me to develop a career in medicine and public health.