UNC Greensboro has an excellent track record of placing students in top graduate programs across the nation. UNCG alumni have landed at Georgetown, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, Tulane, and most recently, Yale.
This fall, Jacqueline Sandoval ’21, a public health education alumna, will begin a Master of Public Health at Yale University, one of the top research universities in the world.
Just one look at Sandoval’s CV, and it’s easy to see why she was a top candidate for Yale. She was a Spartan of Promise, McNair Scholar, former SOAR staff member, CHANCE mentor – the list goes on. She excelled in her coursework, in her research, and in community engagement. And above all, she’s passionate about public health and its far-reaching impact.
“Originally I came to UNCG as a pre-med student, but then I realized that the work I want to do involves a bigger community. In medicine, you’re working one-on-one with patients, but in public health, the community is your patient,” said Sandoval.
Sandoval is specifically interested in working with marginalized communities to improve health outcomes and eliminate barriers.
“Growing up, I saw the barriers that my family faced, and I started to wonder if other Latinx families were experiencing the same thing. A lot of work needs to be done to address racial and ethnic inequities in our health care system.”
Participating in the McNair Scholars Program helped Sandoval put her passion into practice. Working alongside Dr. Sandra E. Echeverría, she explored multi-level disparities associated with pre-diabetes among Latinx populations. Sandoval found that multiple interpersonal, community, and institutional factors intertwine, making diabetes prevention difficult.
Conducting public health research during a public health crisis served as motivation for Sandoval to continue her work.
“COVID-19 showed a lot of the inequities that exist in our health care system,” she said. “I’m glad that people are starting to value public health more. Going through this pandemic has made me more passionate about my field.”
Sandoval’s experience as a McNair Scholar affirmed her love for research, and her mentors encouraged her to apply to graduate programs. Sandoval was drawn to Yale because of the faculty’s focus on marginalized groups, and because of the way the program made her feel valued as a student. A $60,000 scholarship offer sealed the deal.
Ultimately, she wants to work as an executive director of a public health department. Another long-term goal is to earn a doctorate in public health.
Sandoval is grateful for the mentorship she received at UNCG, and for the “Culture of Care” that allowed her to flourish.
“If it wasn’t for my mentors’ support, I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply. The professional and personal advice from Dr. Echeverría will always stick with me,” she said. “I’ve always felt welcome at UNCG, and I loved the way that the Department of Public Health Education was intentional about having engaging, informative discussions. I always left those conversations feeling so empowered.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Jacqueline Sandoval