Why Students choose the School of Public Health

Leigh Ellyn Preston



DrPH in Epidemiology


Amarillo, Texas



Professional Interests:

Infectious Disease, Government Service


EpiAssist, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, L.T. Jordan Fellowship Program


“My doctoral degree program has given me freedom to take classes that fit my interests.”


My journey to the Texas A&M School of Public Health has not been conventional, but I could not have asked for a better education. After 8 years of teaching mainly middle school students and moving to different locations as the wife of an active duty serviceman, my career perspective changed and I desired to help people in a different way. I knew I wanted to conduct research that involved health outcomes in children who cannot advocate for themselves.

A mutual friend who happened to be an Aggie pointed me to Texas A&M, where I completed an undergraduate degree in Anthropology before beginning my graduate studies at the School of Public Health. When I started, I enrolled in the online Epidemiology degree program, but eventually began taking classes in person at the school.

My professional interests really took off when I was offered a job at the Texas A&M Office of Research and eventually landed in Dr. Tom Ficht’s lab studying vaccines. This was followed by international research trips studying childhood infectious diseases in the Philippines and Quito, Ecuador as well as a study abroad trip to and the Galapagos Islands.

I am honored to have recently been selected as an Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Fellow this next year. As an ASPPH/CDC Doctoral Fellow, I will be studying the epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections with the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion in Atlanta, Georgia.

Having switched careers, I was worried I would need to go above and beyond to compare to my peers, but the education I have received at the School of Public Health has helped me feel just as professionally competitive while doing work that really interests me.