Josephine Mhende (MPH 2016) credits the Georgia State School of Public Health with helping her understand her WHY, which is to support families with their social and emotional wellness so they flourish in all areas of their lives.
Name: Josephine Mhende (MPH 2016) and Doctor of Public Health candidate
Title and Organization: Program Manager for the Georgia Mental Health Access in Pediatrics (GMAP) program, housed within the Center of Excellence for Children’s Behavioral Health at the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University
Why did you decide to pursue a career in public health?
My interest in the field of public health is directly related to the fantastic work I did with parents of young children living in a low socioeconomic status community. Working in community-based participatory research introduced me to mindfulness-based stress-reducing research. Mindfulness practice has been empirically backed as a viable way to lower anxiety and depression in individuals with this need. As I taught mindfulness-based stress-reducing techniques to individuals in the community, I saw myself in them, a young mother wanting to be present, show up fully and provide her best to her children and family. I saw the role I could play in my family’s lives.
How did the Georgia State University School of Public Health prepare you for your career?
The Georgia State School of Public Health exposed me to faculty working on diverse research. By connecting with SPH faculty, I was able to participate in opportunities both inside the school (such as the research data services workshops where I could grow my data analysis skills) and opportunities outside of the school (my MPH practicum with Emmaus House, where I could work directly with families). GSU SPH has helped me understand my WHY, which is to support families with their social and emotional wellness, so they flourish in all areas of their lives.
What advice do you have for students interested in public health?
I would advise students interested in public health to reach out to public health practitioners, hold informational interviews with them and find out what they love about their role and the challenges they face with the work. The field of public health is broad, and public health is in everything. What I love about the field is that there is no way for me to get bored in my career. Much of my public health leadership skills can be transferred across employers.
What advice would you give to current public health students?
My advice would be to find mentors who can be a source of support as you navigate your public health journey. Our work cannot be accomplished in silos, and when public health practitioners get together, what they can accomplish is endless!
What is your favorite Georgia State School of Public Health memory?
My favorite GSU SPH memory is my orientation for the MPH program, when Dr. Masyn told the new MPH students “biostats is SEXY!” I’ll never forget that. My second favorite memory is the lifelong connections I have built with my classmates, some of whom have become colleagues.