PARKINSON SCHOOL OF HEALTH SCIENCES AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Major: Master of Public Health
Expected date of graduation: 2022
Even students who choose to learn off-campus can find ways to engage in meaningful experiences at Loyola. Alyssa Stuck is a prime example. From her home in Colorado Springs, Alyssa leads the Loyola University Public Health Association, a public health association run by graduate students aimed at educating and empowering our community to promote health, prevent disease, and advocate for social justice. She also co-developed LEAP (Loyola Educating About Public Health), a virtual program that teaches Proviso Math & Science Academy students about public health. As someone who learned about the power of public health late in her education, Alyssa strongly believes in exposing young people to these important concepts early in their learning journey.
Here, Alyssa reflects on her experiences at Loyola as an online graduate student and how they’ve shaped her outlook on health care and public health.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from your time at Loyola?
The most important thing for me was Loyola’s emphasis on community service and engagement. Being 100 percent virtual, I was really worried I would lose that sense of community and togetherness. I was really involved in community service during undergrad, and, when COVID-19 hit and everything got shut down, I was nervous about being a virtual student. I specifically chose Loyola when I was picking a Master of Public Health (MPH) program because there’s such an emphasis on community service and engagement. I was hopeful that it would carry through into a virtual format as well, which it 100 percent has.
I’ve had a really great experience being able to engage and be involved with the community. Despite not physically being there, there’s been a lot of service and leadership opportunities. Loyola does a great job of not just focusing on giving a stellar education but also explaining how a skill or lesson from a textbook translates to the real world.
What was the best or most memorable part of your Loyola experience?
Despite not being physically at Loyola, I feel super close to and supported by faculty, staff, colleagues, and other people in my classes. Everyone has the sense of wanting everyone to succeed. If you’re talking to someone about your goals or interests, they want to connect you with an opportunity or link you with someone who they know to expand your network. I’ve never had that type of support before. Everyone is willing to take in someone new and provide them with new opportunities and connect them with each other. That type of community support has been my favorite. I feel like I never want to leave Loyola because of that.
What are you planning to do with your degree? How has Loyola prepared you for your future goals?
After I graduate from Loyola, I am applying to medical school. My goal is to one day open a free clinic and work with populations in underserved communities as a physician. I think I can use my MPH background to help me because I’m specifically focusing on policy and management. Understanding policy is important to successfully open and obtain funding for these types of clinics. Having a background in management is helpful so that I can focus my attention on being an exceptional physician working on the ground directly with patients, whether that’s serving women and children or patients experiencing homelessness. I just have a big passion to work in clinics that don’t charge patients.
I believe that health care is a human right. It’s already stressful enough when you’re sick or don’t feel well. Then you add a financial aspect on top of that? That’s just not fair. That’s not equitable. That’s not just. Being able to be a tiny part of the solution in a community that really needs assistance is my ultimate dream.