Q&A: Student Sydney Evans on the impact of public health

Published on May 3, 2021

Sydney Evans photo

Sydney Evans will graduate from the University of Iowa with an undergraduate degree in May 2021. She discovered the field of public health during college, and is planning to pursue a Master of Public Health degree at Iowa as her next step. Find out more about her research, activities, and why public health was the right choice for her.

What is your degree/program?

I am a global health major with a public health certificate.

Where is your home town?

I grew up in Carroll, Iowa.

What motivated you to pursue public health?

The breadth of public health as well as the potential for impact, advancement, and growth of an entire population is what motivated me to pursue public health. The idea of impacting more than just an individual or a couple of people is amazing, and before I got into public health it was unheard of to me.

What have your experiences working and studying in public health so far meant to you? 

The curriculum of each class is so different each semester. Every semester I have the opportunity to learn about various facets of public health. These changes in topic allow for a very diverse education, and I think that is a true asset.

Have you been able to work with a faculty member or center on research?

I have the great opportunity to be a part of a few different projects on Dr. Natoshia Askelson’s research team. The one that I’m most active on is about physical activity in micropolitan areas. I have other projects focusing on rural uptake of the HPV vaccine and evaluations of programs.

This opportunity has been one of my favorites, if not my favorite, experience of my undergraduate time. I have been able to immerse myself in public health research while working and connecting with both undergraduate and graduate students. I am so grateful for this experience – I love my research team.

What other activities were you involved in as an undergraduate?

I have worked with the World Food Prize Foundation (WFP) pretty consistently throughout my undergraduate years. The WFP’s mission is to increase the quality, quantity, and availability of food by elevating and inspiring sustainable action. I am very passionate about food security, so the opportunity to work with the WFP has been a very rewarding and important experience in my life.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be pursuing my Master of Public Health in community and behavioral health here in the UI College of Public Health.

What advice do you have for students thinking about pursuing a degree in public health?

Whatever it is you want to do – try it. It may not work out, but, and this is overstated, you will never know unless you try. I put off talking to Dr. Askelson for months. Then, one day I emailed her, we chatted, and just like that I was starting one of the most impactful experiences I have had.