Gabriela Illa

Gabriela Illa

Associate


The Pew Charitable Trusts

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
First I started exploring medicine,
went on a student-led trip to the Dominican Republic and volunteered at an HIV/AIDS health clinic,
I discovered public health,
got a degree in public health,
made friends and colleagues actively involved in the public health field,
with the help of mentors I got a job doing really interesting public health work!
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Public Health, General
University of Illinois at Chicago
Career

Career

Associate

I help conduct and publish public health research.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Non-Profit Organizations
Non-Profit Organizations
Writing
Writing
Helping People
Helping People

Day to Day

A great day at work for me includes connecting with experts or community members and learning about challenges and potential solutions related to big public health issues like access to safe drinking water. I review articles published in health journals and summarize information for reports and presentations. I also help plan meetings designed to share lessons learned in the field by public health practitioners.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Important skills for my work include the ability to review, understand, synthesize, and present complex health information. The ability to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds is critical to success in the field of public health. Equity, diversity, and inclusion training is recommended. Lastly, given the dynamic nature of health work, it helps to be able to quickly change gears and adapt to new environments. Working directly with health service providers is a valuable experience.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

Get involved by volunteering at local organizations that have public health at the core of their mission. Doing so will help you connect with professionals providing direct service to the community - those folks can serve as mentors in your professional and educational development.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Public Health, General
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You should become a doctor instead because you'll be able to see the result of your work more easily and get paid more than you would in public health. You won't get anything good done because public health is too political."

Let your values guide your professional aspirations. Work for people who motivate and challenge you to perform at your highest level. Go beyond your comfort zone and be willing to take risks, like relocating to a new city for a job that aligns with your career goals. If you're being of service to others, you're on the right track.

Challenges I Overcame

Financial
Financial

I struggled paying for school and left with significant debt. To help cover expenses I had to get a decent paying job. During the interview process for my job I negotiated my salary and was able to secure the salary I needed to help pay back loans.