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Rachel Ram

MPH 2023

What made you choose a career path in healthcare?
I grew up with a doctor and a social worker as parents, so healthcare has always been on my radar. I ultimately decided to pursue public health as a career ten years ago after witnessing the toll cancer took on my family. I wanted to play a role in preventing it. I then worked for a nonprofit in New York City and saw how social determinants and access to healthcare impact health outcomes firsthand. I decided to focus my work on health policy and disease prevention.

What made you select the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health for your graduate degree
Ever since freshman year of undergrad, I knew I wanted to pursue a Master of Public Health. I was torn between a few schools but ultimately decided on UNC because of the sense of community, collaboration, academic accomplishments, affordable cost, and abundance of opportunities in The Triangle. The beautiful nature and friendly people in Chapel Hill are pretty good selling points, too.

Tell us about a favorite class or professor.
I enjoyed Advanced Health Policy Analysis with Pam Silberman. We learned about how policies are made and how to get involved in advocacy to address health issues. We then applied our skills to a North Carolina client interested in creating policy change. I chose “Access to Behavioral Health Providers”. I was able to learn more about an area I am passionate about, analyze various options, and present our findings to former legislators and the Joint Insurance Committee client.

Do you have any advice for incoming students?
Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can outside of your concentration and school. I have learned more than I expected from attending events and connecting with others that weren’t in my direct area of focus. The connections I’ve made have led to my summer internship, informational interviews, job interviews, and even new friendships. The network that is brought together is invaluable.

You have frequently participated in CBOH programming throughout your time at UNC. How has the CBOH enhanced your experience at Carolina?
I am so grateful that there is a center that bridges the business school with other schools, like UNC Gillings. While I did not pursue a dual degree, the CBOH has provided important content and connections in healthcare business that have enhanced my knowledge and bridged gaps in my work. I attended the annual Business of Healthcare Conferences and various events that have given me a different outlook from people I would not have interacted with otherwise. This resulted in more perspective on how healthcare can be improved.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?
Of course, I want to transform healthcare, but my nonprofessional bucket list items are more international trips. This summer after graduation I will check off the first item by hiking the Camino De Santiago from Portugal to Spain and will practice my Spanish. I also hope to live in Asia again and culturally immerse myself, maybe in Dalat, Vietnam.

Who inspires you?
My mom inspires me because of her resilience, empathy, and playful spirit. She is a light in the world. She reminds me to never stop having fun and to keep learning every day.