Catching Up With Rebecca Samuel

This week, the School of Nursing & Health Studies caught up with alum Rebecca Samuel. Rebecca earned her Bachelor of Arts in Health Studies in 2020.

Tell us about yourself and what led you to UW Bothell.

Hi! I’m Rebecca Samuel. I graduated from the UW Bothell in spring 2020 with a bachelor’s in health studies and minors in diversity studies and health education & promotion. I’m currently a MPH (masters in public health) student at the University of Washington and intend to graduate spring of 2023.

I believe choosing to go to the University of Washington Bothell was the best decision I’ve ever made. The biggest reason for me deciding to go to UW Bothell was due to the class sizes. One of my biggest fears was not being able to get the assistance or support that I needed as an undergrad. The faculty and staff ensure that every student is given resources and support.

One of the other things I also considered was the diverse campus community. I was able to connect and learn with so many people of different backgrounds. Something I believe I wouldn’t have experienced if I chose a different college.

How did your experience in your coursework help you find your area of focus?

Many individuals, including myself, rely on our health care to protect, support, validate, and most importantly to have a sense of cultural humility. This was something that I saw as a barrier in my previous work. One of my biggest revelations was during my Program Planning and Health promotion course at the University of Washington Bothell. Within this course we developed programs which were later presented to numerous stakeholders including Verdant Health. One of the biggest shortcomings of our project was the inability to holistically understand the community we intended to target which was the homeless within Snohomish County. The homeless community is often generalized which is a disadvantage to finding effective solutions to this growing issue. As a first-generation, Ethiopian American woman, I’ve had to grapple with challenges of accessing care because of the same homogenization harming. This course experience helped reflect on personal biases and helped me recognize that there was more to know about underprivileged groups like the homeless. It was important for me to do so as I was trying to commit to better understanding various communities and finding resolutions to these kinds of issues. I want to be able to reduce the barriers and make healthcare easy to navigate for the next generation.

Where has life taken you since graduation and what are your future plans?

I’m currently working as an educator consultant with King County public health in their prevention division. Much of my work revolves around HIV and other STD’s. It something I find great joy in, and I’ve continued to learn about the many ways to reach diverse communities in innovative ways.

I’m also currently a MPH student at the University of Washington. I wanted to directly impact individuals while broadening the scope of my capabilities within health services. The Master of Public Health in Health Services program with a social behavioral sciences concentration has a strong focus on intersectionality, equity and critical thinking as well as quantitative methods – invaluable skills for my journey. The program carries courses including “Implementing Public Health Interventions” and “Public Health Practice” that would allow me to extend the impact of these practices through proper organization. These courses also elaborate on the many factors within our public health infrastructure. I would like to build my developmental system thinking skills to better understand the interrelationships between these factors. As someone who would like to continue to advocate for rights to self-autonomy and agency, these skills will serve me well in creating and coordinating efficient health programs which is something intend on doing.

Was there a faculty, staff or student service that had a positive impact on your success?

Dr.Early, Dr. Kristina Mayer, and Jo Blue have pushed me in ways that I believe got me to this point. They really hold much value in their student’s success. I wouldn’t have acknowledged my potential if it wasn’t for these great women. As a person of color, I’ve struggled with professors and teachers doubting my capabilities and these individuals assured me that I could do anything if I set my mind to it. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for all the help and support they have given me.