Kimberly Lakocy graduated with her MPH degree with a concentration in Health Behavior Health Promotion this Spring 2023. For her internship she worked with the Grow 2B Fit Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, even while she worked full-time as a nurse at the University of New Mexico Senior Health Center. Kimberly is one of two winners of the college’s 2023 Outstanding MPH Student Award.
My professors were all passionate about the topics they were teaching as well as their own research. They inspired me to follow my interests and consider different career paths I could take after graduation.
MPH, Health Behavior Health Promotion
Kimberly Lakocy graduated with her Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in Health Behavior Health Promotion this Spring 2023. For her internship she worked with the Grow 2B Fit Foundation in Tucson, Arizona. In that role she mentored families to help reduce childhood obesity within the community. Kim says that this experience allowed her to network with stakeholders and work with the organization toward its mission of decreasing childhood obesity.
In addition to her internship, Kim worked full-time as a nurse at the University of New Mexico Senior Health Center. As an online student, Kim appreciated the MPH program at MEZCOPH and especially liked her concentration-specific courses during her second year. During these courses, she was able to work on active transportation projects and learned about bike infrastructure and policies in her city. Kim was able to apply this knowledge in her job, and bring a new perspective based on research data related to exercise and cognitive impairment in elderly populations. Kim states that the experience was a great way to see what opportunities were available in the real-world, and made her excited for what the future holds.
For this profile, we asked Kim about what she has learned during her MPH experience at MEZCOPH and what inspires her about public health.
Q: Did you have a teacher or mentor who especially inspired you? How and why?
A: My internship preceptor, Courtney Nielsen, serves as the executive director of Grow 2B Fit, and works hard to keep the organization running and serving the community as best as possible. She was an inspiration to me throughout my time at the internship. I also enjoyed my classes with Dr. Byler Thomas, Dr. Oguegbu, and Dr. Brady. My professors were all passionate about the topics they were teaching as well as their own research. They inspired me to follow my interests and consider different career paths I could take after graduation.
Q: What are some challenges or obstacles that you had to overcome in the process of your education in the college, or in the projects/programs in which you worked?
A: Some challenges I had to overcome during my time in the MPH program were time-management and self-motivation. Since my internship project was self-driven, I had to make my own schedule and enforce my own deadlines to ensure that I completed all of my work in time to put together my deliverables and final presentation. Another challenge was examining and overcoming my own biases during the internship. While working on the needs assessment and putting together health education for Grow 2B Fit, I had to understand what assumptions I had about the populations we were serving and work to dismantle those biases in order to serve the community to the best of my ability.
Q: How will your education and experience as a public health student influence your path forward?
A: The lessons I have learned through my classes and internship experiences allowed me to view healthcare and my own role with a more holistic or systems-thinking perspective. They also provided an understanding of the necessity and difficulty of getting funding for programs or policies that fit with this perspective. These lessons have made me interested in pursuing a leadership role within my healthcare system so I can have the opportunity to assess programs and policies and advocate for implementing those that really serve the needs of our patients and our community.
Congratulations Kim on your MPH degree and your Outstanding MPH Student Award!