Student Spotlight: Rita Lechuga
Rita Lechuga is passionate about global health and has clinical experience working in developing countries in Latin America. Through MPH@GW, she hopes to make a difference and reach even more people in need of health care. She values the rigorous coursework she has taken at MPH@GW and enjoys connecting with fellow classmates from around the world. In addition, the online class schedule fits her busy lifestyle and allows her to spend time with her young daughter.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an international medical graduate originally from Mexico City, Mexico. I currently live in the D.C. metro area and am pursuing a medical residency, but I steered off course a bit to earn an MPH. I am also the mother to a precocious and active 3-year-old girl.
Why and when did you decide to earn an MPH degree?
I decided to earn an MPH because after working in public health in a developing country during medical school, I felt like my work was making a difference and reaching more people, and I wanted to continue that on top of working clinically in Latin America.
Why did you choose the MPH@GW program?
With a small child, sometimes it gets difficult to arrange a sitter and balance studying and working. I needed the convenience of a flexible schedule so I would not have to dedicate additional time and finances for transportation and child care. Through the online program, I am able to pick class hours that are more flexible and spend more time with my child, all while earning a quality education from GW.
Do you have a desired focus area?
Through my background, I came to realize that global health is a passion of mine. I also found epidemiology to be a very useful tool in expanding effective clinical work, which I learned while working in developing countries in Latin America. It’s important to me to continue that work.
What excites you most about the program?
Everything! For example, I’ve taken courses that have not only taught me subjects that I haven’t been exposed to as often as I would like (such as Environmental and Occupational Health) but others that have made me work outside of my comfort zone (such as Biostatistics) and have helped me to expand skills that I know will be useful in future endeavors as a clinician. I am looking forward to continuing to fill up my public health toolbox.
Do you know what you would like to do for your practicum experience?
In January 2015, I will be starting an internship with the Pan American Health Organization, which is the regional office of the World Health Organization here in Washington, D.C. The position entails research promotion and development, specifically for Latin America. I am excited to get started!
In your opinion, what’s the best thing about earning your MPH online with GW?
I appreciate the convenience of having class online and being able to tailor a much more flexible study and work schedule. It’s been awesome to meet interesting people from all over the globe. I’ve made some great friends! The workload is substantial, but the professors are very qualified and experienced — they were always helpful and supportive throughout my first year in the program.
What are you hoping to accomplish upon graduation?
Upon graduation, I will be applying to medical specialties that I wouldn’t have considered before, such as internal medicine with a focus on global health. I know that my MPH will help me greatly throughout the process.