One of the nation’s largest and most ambitious scholarship initiatives, the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program helps African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with high academic and leadership potential, and with financial need, realize their higher education aspirations.
For Epa Cabrera ’20, GMS made possible her journey from her home on Saipan in the western Pacific Ocean’s Northern Mariana Islands to study at Hollins University. The program also enabled the business and economics double major to take advantage of real-world experiences outside the classroom. One of those opportunities was working as a research assistant during this year’s January Short Term at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
“My J-term experience enhanced my interest in public health and inspired me to pursue a Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) degree,” Cabrera notes. She subsequently applied to and earned admission at some of the country’s most prestigious M.P.H. schools: the Milken Institute of Public Health at The George Washington University; the Boston University School of Public Health; the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Public Health; the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University; Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; and the Brown University School of Public Health.
“I was admitted to some amazing M.P.H. programs,” she explains, “and after weighing the pros and cons of each, I decided Brown was the best fit for me. I was drawn by its emphasis on applying the skills that we, as students, would learn with hands-on practical experience through internships.”
Cabrera was also impressed with the caliber of Brown’s faculty. “The School of Public Health offers a cadre of world-renowned researchers who focus on a number of topics in which I am particularly interested in exploring. For instance, I’d like to work closely with Associate Professor of Epidemiology Eric Loucks. His examination into social factors that influence cardiovascular disease aligns with my current thesis on obesity in women and its consequences for the U.S. labor supply. I’m also intrigued by recent research undertaken by Bess Marcus, dean of the School of Public Health, which investigates low-cost interventions to promote physical behavior in habitual environments.”
After completing the two-year MPH program at Brown, Cabrera wants to engage in public health projects on a global scale. “I hope to contribute to protecting the well-being of individuals by supporting policies and strategies worldwide through the World Health Organization.” Her long-range goals include completing a doctorate in public health.
Cabrera praises GMS for enabling her to graduate this spring debt-free and able to continue her education without an economic burden. At the same time, she says, “I am grateful for the professors, deans, and the Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins. They have exceedingly given me support and encouragement throughout my time here.”