I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 8 years old— I even tried being a poli sci major for ten minutes in college because that’s what aspiring lawyers do. Later at Facebook I got the persuasion side of law, the constant changes of tech, and the thrill of completing a successful campaign with brilliant friends. Everything I craved was in one place so changing course voluntarily wasn’t necessary.
After I got sick I thought about grad school again. I quickly learned about the barriers to entry for disabled people. Online graduate programs hardly ever offer scholarships. There are close to zero private scholarships specifically for disabled people beyond the undergraduate level. There is no way to attend law school online (yet). It didn’t look good and it felt even worse; my body isn’t moving forward and now my brain can’t either?
My desire to go back to school doesn’t come from being bored or needing entertainment. Being this sick and actively trying to reverse it is a full-time job. It takes four hours just to get ready for the day, I manage three caregivers, a supplement/med protocol that would make your head spin, and am constantly researching to find a cure for a disease that no one else cares to find… and I’m doing it with symptoms and without energy. But that will change someday and I want to be ready to make a difference in the world when it does.
The pandemic put the field of public health on my radar for the first time. I checked it out more thoroughly and realized that everything I’ve been through has uniquely prepared me to excel in it. Research, promoting health, and using data to do it are right up my alley. 2020 showed me just how closely law, the criminal justice system, and public health intersect. After searching dozens of Master of Public Health (MPH) programs I found one ranked top 20 in the country that considers online students for scholarships. I got an application fee waiver ($150!), applied, and got in. I start next month!
Funding is tbd because my school only awards scholarships on an annual basis, before fall semester. I’ll cover this spring with money from the timely sale of my old car. Ultimately, starting now works in my favor because I’ll be applying for funding after taking classes and I can ask my professors for academic recommendations (I only have professional ones right now). My scholarship plea will hopefully include validation from the school’s own faculty members which is a strong advantage.
Public health is not what I ever expected to be studying but it’s absolutely perfect. Even with all of the unknowns (will I secure funding? will I have the stamina to study? how long will it take me to finish?) I’m over the moon to use what I’ve learned as a patient to influence disease prevention for others someday. More to come, stay safe this holiday season!