#UMNMCH student Jenna Kacheroski, she/her (MPH 2023) wrote this reflection on how her undergraduate experiences and deployment working on the MN Women’s Health Report Card have contributed to her career in MCH.
Path to UMN MCH MPH Program
I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to pursue a degree in forensic science. In hindsight, I think the justice and ethics aspect of forensics–helping those who may not be around anymore to find closure through science– drew me to the field. I wanted to be a medical examiner for a bit because I thought it was so fascinating what you can learn from the human body by just looking at the pathology. I found out about public health when I was a freshman in college, from a student organization called MEDLIFE. The group made medical relief trips to places mostly in South America with undergrad students who were mainly interested in health. We would assist with setting up and taking down the clinics, teaching dental hygiene to youth, working the pharmacy tent, and shadowing the local providers when we could. I went to the surrounding rural areas of Cusco, Peru with students from all over the country. We set up mobile clinics that provided dental care, primary care, OBGYN services, and a pharmacy. The people served by these clinics often waited for the mobile clinics to come to their village instead of making the arduous, sometimes hours-long, journey to the clinic or hospital. I clearly remember shadowing the OBGYN provider who set up their station in an existing rudimentary structure (pictured below). I was in awe of the care they were still able to provide with their resources.
When I came back to UNL, I attended a guest lecture by Sheryl WuDunn, who was promoting her book Half the Sky. This book confirmed that I wanted to work with MCH populations. I was moved by her presentation about the challenges women and girls face all over the world when it came to pretty much everything–jobs, education, health, and safety. I quickly read the book and to this day, it is one of my favorites. It made clear what I had known, but never had it put this way–I had won the birth lottery. I was born to two, educated, middle-class parents who had good jobs and provided me the best they could, in a country that is one of the richest, most resourced in the world. I knew that my passion for social justice finally had a place to develop–Public Health.
I am from Burnsville, MN, and missed being close to my family after living, working, and going to school away from home for the last six years. I also always wanted to be a Gopher (I grew up going to Gopher Hockey and Football with my family)! The School of Public Health was at the top of my list when applying to MPH programs, because of its proximity to home and its reputation as one of the best. I found the curriculum for the MCH program to be the most exciting out of any other school that I looked at. UMN SPH MCH was a perfect fit for me!
Information About the Organization and Unit
The Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health has been at the University of MN since 1954. Rooted in the principles of social justice and focused on skills development to serve the programmatic and policy needs of underserved populations, MCH students work to improve the health of women, children, fathers, and families around the world. The Center’s training focuses on public health skills development (program design and evaluation, advocacy, epidemiology) and MCH content (reproductive health, infant and child health, adolescent health, social disparities, family systems, and women’s health).
Women’s Report Card
Through this version of the MN Women’s Health Report Card, we worked to address previous data gaps. For example, we are reporting more data on 2sLGBTQIA+, rural, and Minnesotans of Color in this update. We also included information on Monkeypox (Mpox) and maternal mortality in this update.
The Glossary for Inclusive Language in Maternal and Child Public Health aims to address challenges in gendered language use in the field. The guide provides a glossary and table for alternative language considerations for public health practitioners and programs to use with clients.
Project’s Overall End Goal
The MN Women’s Health Report Card’s goal is to provide Minnesotans with a look into the health outcomes of women in the state. The result is a short, visual PDF (translated into four languages) and an accompanying website with sources and more data to dive deeper into. The Report Card also provides programs and policymakers with updated data to improve population health.
Jenna is a second-year MCH MPH student with minors in health equity and sexual health. Her background is in forensic science and biochemistry. Jenna received her BS in Forensic Science (biology) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2019. She has been working on the Glossary and updates for the 2022 Minnesota Women’s Health Report Card (MN-WHRC), with the feedback provided by two years of PUBH6630 Foundations of MCH Leadership students. The 2022 MN-WHRC will provide an updated snapshot of the indicators and barriers to MN women’s health. She has presented her work on examining the changes in MN Women’s Health by comparing 2018, 2020, and 2022 report cards at the UMN’s Women’s Health Research Conference and Research Day. In her spare time, she enjoys going to concerts, nature walks, and crossword puzzles. After graduating, Jenna hopes to become a physician that works with adolescents or people who can become pregnant. She aims to put her MCH MPH into practice by joining community taskforces or coalitions to improve population health. She is interested in promoting patient advocacy, medical education, trauma-responsive practices, and health literacy.
- 2022 MN Women’s Health Report Card (coming May 2023)
- Glossary for Inclusive Language in Maternal and Child Health Public Health Practice
- A Review of the Indicators of and Barriers to Minnesota Women’s Health: 2018-Present (poster)
Interested in learning more about getting a degree in MCH? Visit our MCH Program page for more information.
#UMNMCH #UMNproud #UMNdriven