Position title: Community Evaluation Team Member
I am Laetitia Zeba, originally from Togo, West Africa. My family moved to Wisconsin in 2005. I am currently a graduate student majoring in Epidemiology with Maternal and Child Health Certificate at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Joseph Zilber School of Public Health.
As a Public Health worker, my experience has been edified by working with adolescents at Running Rebels, a Milwaukee-based program that is devoted to keeping young African Americans out of street. This experience turned my focus to the impact of early life’s events and the value of cultural influence in adolescents’ experiences.
Studying Global Health allows me to discern why some people are healthier than others, and its subsequent impact on the social, economic, political, and environmental health of the entire population. I have experience and expertise of using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to critically explore the factors that explain the unequal distribution of health and disease in the world.
My training in Public Health allows me to understand how systems work and how certain communities are marginalized and how that affects their health and social wellness.
With professional groups, I have closely examined the three opioid epidemics in the United States, allowing me to reflect on the key causes of each epidemic, the demographic profile of each and how the laws have been altered to fit and benefit certain demographic groups. This became an invaluable lesson, allowing me to develop an egalitarian distribution of screening resources, ensuring collective wellbeing of all communities. Yet, it became a bigger lesson: Public Health is a public affair that must be engaged in enabling citizens to vote for leaders who will foster antiracist policymaking. For this reason, my field experience with the Foundation of Black Women’s Wellness during my undergraduate year aimed to advance health equity for Black women in Wisconsin. With the collaboration of Local Voices Network, I conducted virtual conversations with diverse groups of four to six participants on a weekly basis for three months. The findings of my project were shocking as Black women who have participated in the conversations complained about their health, the care they receive, and how they are not being listened to by health care providers.
As an aspiring Public Health professional, I am equally concerned about infectious diseases and pandemics. Growing up in West Africa, I was exposed to many infectious diseases. Our lives then were saved by epidemiologists and doctors. I have always dreamed of becoming an epidemiologist because I know their life-saving mission. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now clearer than ever before that Public Health preparedness is necessary in preventing and containing outbreaks. Global Health is improved by achieving health equity for everyone worldwide. I am passionate to help address and promote equity in our community, and this opportunity with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute will help fulfill my goal.