We are called
Profile of Loyola University Chicago student Sydney Ross, Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health
Beyond the classroom

Called to Engage

Public health student Sydney Ross applies in-class lessons to real-world scenarios during a global pandemic

The emergence of COVID-19 in spring 2020 spurred new attention to the importance of public health. As the nation—and the world—grappled with understanding life amidst a global pandemic, high school and college students were contemplating their future careers. A career in public health was more appealing than it ever had been before.  

At the time, Sydney Ross was in the middle of her second semester at Loyola University Chicago, studying biochemistry. She soon realized that public health offered her a more direct path to affecting the change she wanted to see in health care and her community.  

"There’s so many things in the world that need to change like food deserts and access to quality health care,” says Ross, now a junior public health major and biostatistics and biology minor at the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. “As a young person, I think it's important to go out there and act.” And she’s not waiting around to make that change.  

In addition to her studies, Ross spends her time volunteering with groups like Centro Romero, a community-based organization that serves the refugee immigrant population on the northeast side of Chicago.  

There’s so many things in the world that need to change like food deserts and access to quality health care. As a young person, I think it's important to go out there and act.

— Sydney Ross, public health major

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to create grassroot connections and better understand the issues that I want to eventually help fix,” says Ross, who is also a member of Loyola’s Public Health Club and co-director of campaigns for Loyola’s GlobeMed chapter, a student-led organization committed to advancing health equity. 

The opportunity to apply her knowledge and skills in hands-on settings is one of the main reasons Ross chose Loyola in the first place. Embedded within Loyola’s curriculum is an experiential learning component, which ensures students are able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-world settings. At Loyola, “you don't feel lost in a big lecture hall, but you still have all of these opportunities to get real-life experience,” says Ross.  

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Of course, for public health students like Ross, those opportunities have taken on even greater meaning given the context of the pandemic. “To be learning about pandemics in a textbook while watching one play out in a real-world scenario is incredibly interesting,” she says. 

An aspiring epidemiologist, Ross was one of the first students enrolled in the Parkinson School’s dual-degree public health program in which students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) and Master of Public Health (MPH) in just five years. The dual-degree program offers a competitive advantage for students like Ross who are anxious to begin affecting change in their communities.  

For Ross, Loyola is the perfect place to affect that change. “It provides you with a close-knit community that's there to support you.”