MPH '03, Community Public Health
Originally from Brooklyn, Jamillah Hoy-Rosas spent her undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia majoring in the Biological Basis of Behavior, an interdisciplinary curriculum focusing on anthropology, psychology and sociology. After her 1998 graduation Jamillah worked for two years as a research coordinator – first at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and then at Presbyterian Medical Center in the Department of Family Practice and Community Medicine. Those positions really strengthened her interest in community health and research.
Getting ready to move on to graduate school, Jamillah drew on her undergraduate coursework when considering a course of study. “I had taken a couple of nutrition courses as an undergrad at U Penn. I thought it was fascinating. My interest in nutrition arose from the opportunities for research in the field and its focus on disease prevention and health promotion.” Jamillah decided to return to New York and enroll at NYU to pursue a master of public health degree in public health nutrition. Ultimately, she says, “I saw public health nutrition as a way to affect not just individuals, but large groups of people about the importance of making wise lifestyle choices regarding nutrition.”
Jamillah found that NYU had the best program to meet her needs for both academic training and practical fieldwork, since she was able to obtain both an RD and MPH within the same department. She was looking for an “integrated experience” that would prepare her for diverse employment opportunities. “I was very interested in doing clinical work but I also wanted to do research and work within the community. The program gave me the opportunity and skills to do that.” Her clinical nutrition placement at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn was the mix of academic and practical experience she was seeking. “I completed six months of clinical coursework at NYU and then six months on site at the hospital.” Jamillah worked with a group of patients with different illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. “Our primary duties were clinical assessment of the nutrition status of the patient, calculating optimum calories for their diet and determining the appropriate content of their diet specific to their illness or condition.”
Academically Jamillah excelled at NYU as well. She presented a poster for a research project on the effects of acculturation on the diet of Mexican American children at an American Dietetics Association national conference in 2002. “Assistant Professors Beth Dixon and Kristy Lancaster mentored me from beginning to end, helping me identify and refine my topic, analyze and present the data.” Jamillah’s work was so well received that she was interviewed by the press about her thesis.
After her May 2003 graduation, Jamillah began interning in the Bureau of Chronic Disease with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). She was quickly offered a full-time consulting position to work with the “Wellness at Work” program as a Nutrition Associate. Her contract ended in March 2004, only weeks before giving birth to her daughter Olivia. Already a registered dietitian, 28-year-old Jamillah plans to pursue a Ph.D. focusing on maternal and infant nutrition within the next 2-3 years. At the moment, however, she has her hands full with Olivia and the part-time consulting work she does for the Visiting Nurse Service and other private clients. “This kind of arrangement is very convenient and suitable for working mothers.” She plans to continue consulting with the NYC DOHMH as well as start a new position as a Nutritionist at Betances Health Center in lower Manhattan, creating health programming and doing nutrition education and counseling with an underserved, minority population.
As far as NYU goes, Jamillah has only positive things to say about her experience. “NYU has a very strong reputation in the world of work. People respect and understand the depth and breadth of our training and professional education. We have an extensive skill set by the time we graduate. There are also many NYU alumni in positions of power and leadership in nutrition and public health. Anyone who is interested in preventative health care and wants a diversified educational experience – this is the program for you. You will enter the public health world as a very strong candidate.”
Written by Heather Marie Graham