Working Toward a Greater Good
Health Policy, MPH ‘19
“The more time I spend in public health, the more I see that there’s a strong need for women of color to be represented in Congress. I’m trying my very best to be one of those women.”
Rosa Abraha is the type of woman who knows what she wants. With her eye set on public office, Rosa is an active dreamer who has taken thoughtful steps toward achieving her goals.
At 20, the ink barely dry on her college diploma, Rosa snagged a coveted position with the National Institutes of Health where she worked in various capacities as a health education and outreach specialist. After three years working in a range of roles—including a post in Alabama managing a safe sleep grant project alongside the Department of Public Health—Rosa was ready to continue her education with a graduate degree.
"I love health communication and outreach," she says. "But, I think naturally I like to see things from a higher, more macro view. Working on the ground with the people of Alabama taught me that if I wanted to gain true health equity for vulnerable populations I would have to build the skills in health policy to advocate for them."
After weighing her options, Rosa ultimately chose Rollins based on her experiences with the admissions team and the warmth she felt when she visited campus. "I came here and fell in love with Rollins. So I stayed!"
Rosa knew from the outset that she wanted to focus on health policy. "I learned how to make key connections in law and health and to understand how to use the law as a tool for public health advancement," she says of the degree program.
In terms of applied learning and professional development, Rosa cites her time as president of the Rollins Student Government Association as being transformative. "I think it just gave me so much perspective about systems thinking," she says. "My big goal in health policy is seeing things from the top-down and understanding the development and implementation of rules that benefit all people, and I think in so many ways that was mimicked in this role."
The opportunity also allowed her to build relationships with leaders at Rollins, including Jim Curran, dean of the school. "He’s one of the people who really influenced me in my time here. Just watching him and his leadership style… it’s taught me a lot about the type of leader I want to be.”
Rosa plans on taking a one-year break between graduate school and law school to help build strong public health policy infrastructure in Ethiopia. A first-generation American, Rosa’s parents both emigrated from Ethiopia.
“I just feel like there’s a need and a desire, especially as a minority student in America, to give back to my people in a larger way.”