Alumni Interviews — Arianna Gomez Lopez (’18)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each year we publish brief Alumni Updates where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Arianna Gomez Lopez (’18). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at BIC@baylor.edu.

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated from Baylor in May 2018. I studied Public Health with a minor in International Studies. I was part of the BIC and Honors Program and a participant in Model Organization of American States (MOAS).

Tell us some about your career and journey since graduating from Baylor.

I started my Master’s in Public Health (MPH) at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in the Global Health Department the Fall following my graduation.

As a student at Rollins, I concentrated in Community Health Development and did a graduate certificate in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, offered through their close partnership with the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch (ERRB) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During my time in Atlanta, I gained experience in the vast field of public health as a health educator at the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta, a communications intern at the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), and as a Central and South America Case Manager for Childspring International, a non-profit dedicated to providing life-changing surgeries for children from lower and middle-income countries.

The two-year program went by in a blink, and come my last semester, I wasn’t entirely sure what life would look like after I graduated in May.

And then the pandemic came.

As for most of us, the world as I knew it and all the plans I had changed one Wednesday afternoon during the Spring Break that never ended.

I finished my master’s thesis and graduated in the haze of the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and bought myself a ukulele and a ticket home thinking I’d have some time to spare as I began my overdue job search.

But I never quite got to pick up the ukulele, because before I knew it (and in a way that makes for a story better told in-person), I was appointed as an ORISE Fellow and joined the newly formed Emergency Response Capacity Team (ERCT) at the CDC as a Response Capacity Coordinator in June 2020.

My team sits within ERRB at the Center for Global Health and it is tasked with providing our foreign partners with the technical support and collaboration necessary to strengthen in-country health systems and build enduring emergency response capacity that will enable them to effectively and efficiently respond to public health emergencies. As a Response Capacity Coordinator, I work with an array of partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to coordinate emergency response strategies and priorities.

Joining the CDC at such a time and serving in the response to COVID-19 has been, of course, an absolute honor and an incredible learning experience.

Despite the rollercoaster the last two years have been, I remain passionate about health diplomacy, health equity, and global public health and I am excited to discover where this career path will take me.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

As a student at Baylor, I had so many contrasting passions, including public health, foreign policy, theology, and Latin American cultures. I often felt like having to choose one over the other. But the philosophy of BIC was one that encouraged me to live out all of my passions in a thoughtful and deliberate manner.

As a public health professional, an appreciation for multidisciplinary collaboration has been a cornerstone of my career and I have found my biggest passion within this vast field–global health diplomacy–at the intersection of public health and foreign affairs, loves that I fostered through my time as a BIC student at Baylor.

Personally, aside from the fact that the phrase ‘the unexamined life is not worth living,’ lives rent-free in my brain, BIC provided an incredible learning space and supportive community which was critical to my development as a person who still continues to strive to live a life in full pursuit of Truth, Good, and Beauty.

Do you have any favorite memories from your time in BIC?

I don’t think there’s a better bonding experience at Baylor than being a BICer at the Honors Residential College (HRC), where a lot of times you feel like part of a renegade group of idealists.

I definitely miss the camaraderie of the endless nights of our first semester, the passionate debates that would ensue in and outside of the classroom, and the many stories brought to life by professors and classmates who are acutely aware of the power of story to change the world.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

1) For current allied health students interested in public health who are on the fence about pursuing a master’s in public health, I’d highly encourage it. It is a versatile professional degree that can be customized to your individual interests in public health and can be marketed in infinite ways. It’s definitely a must-have for a lot of jobs that would be considered entry-level.

2) This is a piece of advice that I’ve heard numerous times throughout my short public health career. And that is, to be open to new opportunities. A lot of my favorite people in the field got to where they’re most fulfilled through a series of happy accidents and scenic pathways.

3) On the practical side, I’d highly recommend taking an Excel course. It’s very basic, but you’d be surprised the number of times top-notch epidemiologists with state-of-the-art data analysis tools get stumped out in the field over Excel.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I wish so much I wouldn’t have spent so much time during junior and senior year at Baylor worrying about what came next. Take some time to slow down and take it all in. Get a blanket and have so many wonderful picnics in the lawn in front of Memorial. It’s the best way to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Everything will work out in the end, and you’ll end up exactly where you’re meant to

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