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Sunitha Konatham '21

Sunitha Konatham


Sunitha Konatham ‘21

Why did you choose Texas A&M’s School of Public Health? 

“The school has many faculty that are well known experts in public health. Our faculty were some of the authoritative sources that people would go to for answers regarding COVID precautions and practices. It was an incredible experience to be able to learn under those professors! I wanted to be at a school that valued not only learning in the classroom, but also how to apply those lessons in daily lives. The professors set a great example of that.” 

What has your experience been like in the program? 

“I started the program the summer of 2020 during the pandemic and as a result, my experience was completely virtual. Even though it was mostly distance learning, I was still able to collaborate with my peers and build strong personal and professional relationships. Some of the people I met during my time in the program are now my closest friends. We love talking about our career trajectories with each other and seeing the ways we can incorporate what we learned from our time in the School of Public Health into our daily lives. Now that we are public health graduates, people see us as experts and as authoritative sources for information and we want to be able to fulfill that role in society. I really enjoyed my time in the public health program, and I got a lot of hands-on experience through my projects and group assignments. Our faculty fostered a strong culture of collaboration and teamwork, which is reflective of those working in public health.” 

How do you feel this program has helped you prepare you for a post-grad career? 

“I went straight from MPH to medical school. There have been times in medical school class where the professor has asked where the public health students are and they would then ask us to elaborate on the topics that they were explaining. Those instances entrusted us with the responsibility to teach our peers about concepts we had learned from our degree. These opportunities allow us to engage in meaningful conversations with our faculty and peers on how to be a public health-minded individual.”

What level of support have you received while in your program? 

“I received so much support. With classes being virtual I was scared that I would not have a strong support system or good relationships with offices and faculty. Despite being virtual, we had plenty of opportunities to get to know each other and get to know the people that were teaching us. This was extremely valuable to have, especially at a time when we were isolated and pursuing our degrees from home. I had an incredible advisor, Dr. Selina Stasi. She helped me pick my classes, find my practicum, and navigate through classes. Since I was on the accelerated track, she gave me advice on how to deal with all the extra pressures. Dr. Brian Colwell was my global health certificate director and my professor for two classes. He gave me professional insight on how I could use my public health degree. I had a lot of great friends that I got to be in classes and work on projects with, and just do life with, which was such a blessing.”

What do you think of the coursework? 

“The coursework was a more enjoyable for me than undergrad because I was able to see the application of the concepts I was learning. I remember in undergrad, a lot of times I was wondering when I was going to use what I was learning and apply it to the real world. In my public health classes, I never had that question. I always knew that the information I was learning and the skills I was developing would be immediately relevant to what I would be doing in the future, which made all the courses I took more valuable and enjoyable.”

What advice would you give to someone looking into A&M’s School of Public Health?

“Talk to former students. They have a lot of insight in terms of the professors and what do expect from different classes and about concentrations. All the concentrations are different, even though we start out in the same place in the core. Look at the course catalog and the listing of classes you’ll be taking in each concentration. It’s good to look at the classes to make sure those are the topics you are interested in so you’ll be invested.” 

What are your plans for the future? 

“I want to go into medical journalism. I learned a great deal about communication and writing in general during my public health degree. I grew to love writing that promoted health, communicated with general audiences and educated people. I’m continuing to write on various platforms for the School of Medicine. I have continued to volunteer with Unbound Bryan College Station where I am a clinical trainer for them and teach medical professionals how to identify and respond to human trafficking victims in different settings.”

What was your favorite thing about the program? 

“It’s hard to choose one thing but I would say the best thing about the program was the small class sizes. There were 20 to 30 students in each of my classes and we got one-on-one time with faculty. We were able to work together in groups and even though classes were on Zoom, we got to know each other very well. I know that I will be collaborating with these people for the rest of my life and throughout my professional career. The small class sizes are by far one of my favorite things because it made for some awesome and unique relationships.”

Can you explain your time in the one-year accelerated master program? 

“Going through the program in one year made the coursework more rigorous. There were times that I took over 20 credit hours a semester. I learned so much  about time management and communication with my faculty, family and friends. Having those people who are also going through the experience with me was immensely valuable because I had a support system of people who knew exactly what I was going through, and they encouraged me to push through when it got hard.”

Learn more about the HPCHS Program