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Fall 2023 Orientation Marks a Promising Start for Incoming Students

The Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Millers School of Medicine commenced its Fall 2023 orientation on August 17, welcoming a diverse cohort of 64 students who are set to embark on their respective academic journeys. Held at the Don Soffer Clinical Research Center, the event was a crucial introduction to the department's esteemed programs and resources, setting the stage for a successful academic year.

“It is always inspiring to welcome a new cohort of public health leaders as they begin the transformative journey that will lead them to pursue healthier communities,” said Begoña Rovira, M.B.A, M.A., executive director of master’s programs at the Department of Public Health Sciences. 

The incoming cohort comprises an array of talented individuals, encompassing 33 students enrolled in the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) and Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) programs, 6 in the Master of Science in Biostatistics program, 3 in the Master of Science in Population Sciences program, and 8 students undertaking their Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Health.

The cohort also includes 7 students in a 4+1 program that combines a Bachelor of Science with an M.P.H. or M.S.P.H., as well as 7 students in an accelerated M.P.H. program. 

This diversity reflects the expansive range of interests within the realm of public health and underscores the department's commitment to fostering a collaborative and inclusive learning environment.

Key Highlights of the 2023 Cohort:

  • Average GPA of 3.3 for Master's students and 3.8 for Doctoral students, representing an increase from 3.2 and 3.4, respectively in 2022.
  • Diverse academic backgrounds including Behavioral Science, Biochemistry, Biostatistics, Kinesiology, Neuroscience, Nutrition, Psychology, Sociology, and more.
  • A notable 36% are first-generation college students, one of the highest first-generation classes.
  • A significant 33% of incoming students are double canes, showcasing their previous affiliations with the University of Miami.
  • Geographically diverse, with 53% from Florida, 26% out of state (representing 9 states), and 21% international (representing 7 countries).
  • 25% of the students benefit from tuition remission.

“It’s exciting to see our classroom full of new students,” said David Lee, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences. “This is the first gathering in the Fall since the start of the pandemic.” Dr. Lee's opening remarks set the tone for the event, highlighting the department's commitment to excellence in research and education, and the myriad opportunities awaiting the incoming students. Opportunities are boundless, he emphasized.

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Sebastian surprised students during orientation.

The graduate programs staff shared a comprehensive overview of the resources available, allowing students to connect with dedicated faculty members and administrative staff, who are vital in guiding them through their academic journeys, providing mentorship, academic support, and career guidance. 

Led by program directors, breakout sessions offered students an opportunity to delve deeper into the specifics of their chosen programs. Whether it was understanding the core curriculum, research opportunities, or potential career paths, these sessions enabled students to have their questions answered and allowed for a personalized introduction to the program's intricacies. 

As the day drew to a close, a palpable sense of enthusiasm filled the air. Students engaged in lively discussions, sharing their aspirations and forming connections that are to become an integral part of their academic and professional lives. The Fall 2023 orientation served as an excellent start for these future public health leaders, equipping them with the knowledge and connections they need to excel in their studies and make a meaningful impact in their chosen field.

“Fall 2023 orientation was not just an event; it was a manifestation of the department's commitment to fostering a vibrant community of learners who are eager to contribute to the betterment of public health,” said Viviana Horigian, M.D., M.H.A., professor and director of the M.P.H. and M.S.P.H. programs. 

“As these students embark on their graduate journeys, they carry with them the anticipation of discoveries, the promise of growth, and the determination to drive positive change in the realm of public health,” she added. 

Lizhelh Rodriguez
Lizelh Rodriguez

The new cohort displays an unwavering commitment to education and a passion for addressing contemporary public health challenges. As a Double Cane, Lizelh Rodriguez is excited to continue growing inside and out of the classroom. “It’s an honor to be a part of the University of Miami as an employee and now an M.S.P.H. student,” said Rodriguez, who currently works in Cancer Survivorship under Dr. Frank Penedo’s leadership. 

In her research, Rodriguez evaluates “the role of sociocultural, biobehavioral and psychosocial mechanisms on health outcomes in cancer." She said, “With an M.S.P.H. degree, I will further develop my research skills and learn quantitative analysis skills that will apply to the work I conduct as a researcher.” 

In a gesture of appreciation, the office of admissions also hosted an inaugural appreciation lunch for student leaders, faculty, and staff, to recognize and commemorate the department's efforts. 

“We want to express our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering dedication that has left a lasting imprint on our admissions journey,” said Ginelle Solis, Ed.D., M.P.A., director of admissions at the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Tanvi Hathiramani, senior program coordinator for admissions and recruitment at the Department of Public Health Sciences, further extended the appreciation, “This event serves as a humble gesture to convey our deep appreciation for your significant contributions.”

Written by Deycha Torres Hernández
Published on August 24, 2023