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Tufts Public Health

Vishakha Ramakrishnan

How Vishakha Ramakrishnan’s (MPH ‘16) love of data and passion for community health paved a path to the Centers for Disease Control.

What encouraged you to enter the Tufts MPH program?

As an undergraduate I signed up for a community health course and immediately felt like “THIS is it! I have a purpose!” - it clicked immediately. I double-majored in economics and community health, which made for a good pair. I fell in love with statistics and was able to combine it with my public health interests, which led to me concentrating in biostatistics during my MPH. As far as why I wanted my MPH, I wanted to learn more about how public health is applied in the world, and gain the skills to be a more effective practitioner.

What were the curriculum and culture like at Tufts?

Classes were small, and I really enjoyed the intimacy of that experience. I got to know people in my program really well and the professors really made themselves accessible outside of class to further share their expertise.

There was also a lot of diversity among students, which made for a better learning experience. I remember being grouped with a veterinary student in an environmental epidemiology class. Her perspective and insight shed new light on how the environment affects all walks of life.

Did you have any opportunities to learn in the community?

I completed my Applied Learning Experience (ALE) with my global health professor, Fernando Ona, at a refugee clinic at Boston Medical Center. He was working part-time at the clinic and helped me secure an ALE there. The focus of our work was to try to demonstrate the center’s effectiveness in improving mental health and reducing depression among refugees and asylum seekers. It was my first time working with real patient data. That experience helped me hone my interest and led me to my current career path in program evaluation.

How did Tufts prepare you for what you’re doing today?

Tufts offers a lot of resources to prepare for the real world. Before every single job interview, I did a mock interview with Career Services. It helped me become a better interviewer and networker.

After completing my MPH, I worked at AthenaHealth to explore the healthcare and technology side of public health. But I found that I wanted to get back into research and pursued a fellowship at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I am currently an Evaluation Specialist in the CDC’s Division of Laboratory Sciences. My role is to help demonstrate and improve how the CDC serves public and private laboratories during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why should a prospective student earn their MPH from Tufts?

What drew me to pursue my MPH was the chance to learn how to bring a human touch to quantitative problem-solving. Through working with my Tufts professors, I was able to learn the importance of using thoughtful, creative, and evidence-based methods to serve our communities. A Tufts MPH offers students the opportunity to excel in the classroom, and really make a positive impact on our world.

Vishakha Ramakrishnan, MPH'16
Vishakha Ramakrishnan
MPH, Epidemiology and Biostatistics