Public-Health Focused, Medically Minded
Health Policy and Management, MSPH ’22
“I wanted to get research experience and dig into the higher-level systemic and structural determinants of public health, and learn about how care is delivered at large.”
Antonio Henry considers himself a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to his varied health-focused career. He has provided health services support in the United States Armed Forces for the last 11 years, worked for the American Red Cross, served with AmeriCorps, and trained housing specialists at the HIV care and prevention nonprofit APLA Health. His ultimate goal is to become a physician, but wanted to gain experience in public health research first.
“Before applying to medical school, it was important to me to find an experience to build skills and competencies for public health while also being in a hospital environment,” he says. “I wanted to get research experience and dig into the higher-level systemic and structural determinants of public health, and learn about how care is delivered at large.”
At Rollins, he is doing exactly that, both through his classwork and in his work with faculty member, Randi Smith, MD, MPH, who is both an assistant professor and a trauma surgeon at Grady Memorial Hospital. Henry has worked for Smith at Grady in both a Rollins Earn and Learn position and as a graduate research assistant for his applied practice experience. Through his positions with Smith, he sees and surveys patients daily and has done data analysis since last November. This cherished experience is one Henry says he likely would not have had anywhere else.
“I have had a lot of support,” he says of the faculty at Rollins, calling out the stellar teaching methods of Janet Cummings, PhD; Peter Joski, MSPH; his thesis advisor, Ilana Graetz, PhD; and Alyasah Sewell, PhD.
In addition to his academic life, Henry says what he loves most about Rollins is the community of classmates. “I’ve made three best friends. We’re all in the Department of Health Policy and Management and keep each other accountable for classwork—even throughout the pandemic. And we support each other through life’s challenges.”
He has also enjoyed living in Atlanta. “Coming from L.A., it’s like living in the forest here. You get to see the seasons but don’t have to experience extreme snow. Seeing Black people thriving and occupying so many different spaces has been good, too.”
As for what he hopes to contribute to the field of public health, Henry says he’s interested in academic medicine and has plans to be a physician. “I think it’s important for incoming student physicians to understand the influence providers have in addressing health disparities and inequities both within and outside the health care environment.”