Mary-Kathryn Menendez



Undergraduate Institution: Fort Hays State University
Major: Sociology

Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?
Selecting a graduate school was a complex, very personal decision that for me was laden with stress, spreadsheets of school comparisons, and research. However, finally committing to the Brown University School of Public Health was an easy decision after visiting the school and having the chance to meet with faculty, students, and administrators. I saw that the collaborative, supportive environment that is advertised is in fact the reality. Other factors that led me to Brown included the open MPH curriculum allowing students to enter as general MPH student and wait to declare a specific concentration, the inclusion of a thesis in the curriculum, the program’s emphasis on hands-on experience within the classroom setting, and faculty expertise associated with my research interests.

What makes Brown's program different from other programs you considered?
The people. Absolutely. The supportive, open-doors environment. All graduate programs are ultimately what you make of them, but the faculty and administrators of the MPH program truly go out of their way to enable meaningful learning experiences and opportunities if you are willing to seek them out.

What do you enjoy most about your program?
Throughout the majority of our classes, MPH students write term papers and complete assignments using legitimate, real-world data sets, enabling true research experience instead of hypothetical practice that has been invaluable to the development of my skills throughout the program. 

What is your academic area of interest and why?
My primary academic area of interest is centered on health services research for our aging U.S. population, with a particular emphasis on quality of care and nursing home research. This is a topic very close to my heart as a former hospice volunteer and with personal experience caring for aging loved ones. 

What are your postgraduate goals/plans?
I plan to work in gerontology-related research for one-to-two years before applying to doctoral programs to pursue a career in mixed-methods health services research.

Why Providence?
Rhode Island, being such a small state, only has a state-level health department, which allows Brown University School of Public Health Students access to working with data and policy immediately at the state-level. 

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
Find the program that feels right to you. While it is important to ensure your program of choice checks all the boxes for your long-term goals, feeling comfortable in - and excited about - your graduate school is vital. The Brown University School of Public health community is an open-minded, collaborative environment easy to thrive in if you are willing to go out of your comfort zone, knock-on doors, and search out opportunities. 

Learn more about Brown's MPH program