Health Science, Public Health students headed to grad schools at UCLA, USC

Inspired and challenged by their professors to help improve health care equity and quality, Health Science and Public Health students Lou Paulette Din ’16 and Samantha Mel Padama ’17 are bound for graduate school at two of the country’s top research universities.

The foundation they received in Dominican’s Department of Health Sciences will help the two students hit the ground running when they enter graduate school at a time when college graduates with a broad knowledge of healthcare issues and trends are in high demand.

Health Science major Samantha has been admitted into the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworkak-Peck School of Social Work where she’ll be pursuing her Master of Social Work. Public Health major Paulette will be across town attending UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.

“I am in awe of how I got to this point,” says Samantha, a graduate of St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School who currently is interning for a mental health practitioner at the Marin Health and Wellness Center and volunteers at Marin General Hospital. “I am so thankful for my professors and all the opportunities I have been given.”

With the support of Dominican’s Dr. Michaela George, Samantha immersed herself in research focused on preventing compassion fatigue and burnout. The work, which formed her senior thesis, fortified her goal of becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

“The social workers I talked with for my research were amazed that Dominican provided the opportunity to study this issue in-depth,” says Samantha, who minors in Public Health. “Because of my research, I feel prepared for grad school. I have the background and experience on how to conduct those studies.”

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A graduate of Palo Alto Senior High School, Paulette joined Dominican as a nursing major but moved to public health to focus on preventing people from getting sick or injured in the first place. Dr. George, her Capstone II professor, and Dr. Andria Rusk, director of the Public Health program, were instrumental in making it a smooth and beneficial transition.

“Having clinical experience as a nursing student really shaped me in realizing that I do want to work in health education and health promotion,” says Paulette, who is working with the American Heart Association as a Youth Market School Fundraiser Associate until she leaves for Los Angeles.

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As recent legislation shifts healthcare toward a larger focus on prevention, job opportunities in public health are expected rise. The Association of Schools of Public Health estimates that 250,000 more public health workers will be needed by 2020. Employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In pursuing her Master’s degree at UCLA, Paulette’s goals are to learn more effective ways to communicate and improve awareness about issues related to health promotion and healthy behaviors.

“Education is typically the first steps towards change. While at Dominican, I have presented in assemblies to youth and provided patient education in a clinical setting,” Paulette says. “With a graduate level education, I would like to explore the variety of ways to reach others and make a positive impact on their health.”

April 26, 2017