Samari Blair – Student Spotlight
What is your name?
What is your concentration/specialization?
Social and Behavioral Sciences, campus
What public health areas are you most interested in?
Mental health and increased access to mental health services, health disparities, and worksite wellness
What did you study in your undergraduate career or post-graduate career prior to beginning the MPH program?
I was a Biomedical Sciences and Public Health dual degree student.
What first prompted your interest in public health?
During undergrad, I had to take a class for my Biomedical Sciences major and I thought it was pretty interesting how public health is embedded in everything within our society. I took another class and I decided to minor in it, which I eventually I turned into my second degree. I knew that I wanted to get my MPH because it would help me better understand and serve my patients as a future physician.
What interested you in the UF Public Health program?
The biggest thing that attracted me to UF was the faculty and staff. I came up for Admitted Students Day and the level of care and hospitality that the the program personnel showed me was really impactful and at the end of the day I has decided UF was the choice for me. To this day I still stand by this. The people in this program have gone out their way to make sure that I am successful and get to live out my dreams. Because of all my professors and the staff, I get to say I am going on to medical school in the fall, where I can combine my love for public health and medicine to be a catalyst for change in our society.
What has been the most impactful course you have taken at UF? If you cannot identify one–what is a lesson or message that has stuck with you?
I think the most impactful course for me was Social and Behavioral Research Methods (PHC6700). Dr. Hack really challenged us as student researchers to think and write critically. I learned how to write scientifically and it really paved the way for the rest of my time in the program. The lessons that I learned in this class has become extremely helpful while working on my special project right now and will be lessons I continue to use in the future.
What has been your favorite/most memorable moment in the program? This does not have to be academic–examples include connecting with a professor, working on a research project, volunteer work, etc.
My favorite part of the program has been my involvement in extracurricular activities. During my time, I served as Vice President of the Public Health Student Association and a Dean’s Ambassador for the College of Public Health and Health Professions. Both of these positions have made my experience in the MPH so much worthwhile. I loved the opportunity to be able to network with various individuals in the UF and Gainesville community and grow closer with my fellow classmates and other students in the College. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to take part in these leadership positions and they will forever have an impact on me after my time in the program has come to an end.
What advice do you have to someone who is interested in this program or someone who is just starting out in this program?
The two years go by fast so take advantage of every opportunity to grow yourself personally and professionally! Network, do research, volunteer, get involved, foster deep relationships with your classmates and professors! The more you put into the program, the more you get out of it. Because I came in with a mindset that I was going to make the two years meaningful, I had the best two years of my life. I owe the MPH program so much and I really hope other students can say the same.