Passionate about preventive medicine and quality health care, Sinthu Sathia Kumar knew what she wanted from her education: a 360-degree picture of public health. As an undergraduate at University of California, Irvine, she studied public health sciences and learned the biology of disease. To get a better sense of health care she wanted to explore public health policy, so she chose to concentrate on that facet of the field in her MPH studies at USC.

“I realized that all change begins on the policy level,” she said — whether it’s improving a community’s access to healthier and affordable food options or changing how clinic administration runs its daily operations. She credits professor of clinical preventive medicine, MPH Health Services and Policy Track Director Michael Cousineau, DPH, “who constantly challenges the way we think about health policy and motivates me to keep researching for areas of improvement.”

Kumar said her biggest accomplishment at USC was interning at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles My VOICE Adolescent Transition Program. With mentorship, she facilitated focus groups, co-authored research papers and helped implement a rheumatology transition clinic at Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center to ensure continuity of care for adolescents living with chronic illness as they transitioned from pediatric to adult health care systems.

As president of the MPH Student Association, Kumar said got to know her peers and faculty through social and service events — and in two years gained lifelong friends and mentors.

“Sinthu is one of our strongest MPH students,” said MPH Director Luanne Rohrbach, PhD, MPH, associate professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School. “She has been a stellar leader of the student organization, overseeing the board of seven officers, helping to organize innovative events for students, enhancing communications between students and faculty, and providing suggestions that will improve the program.”

The most important takeaway from her time at USC was “to never be afraid to network,” Sinthu said. Her internship opportunities, work experience and leadership roles arose from networking with fellow Trojans. She learned to pursue opportunities she knew she would excel at and learn from.

After graduating she plans to work as a health care consultant or a program manager to continue addressing quality in health care.

She urged future graduates to share their passions with professors and fellow students to gain friendships and find work and volunteer opportunities.

“I consider my two years in this program one of the most exciting times of my life,” she said. “It was great being around like-minded individuals who were so passionate and dedicated to health care.”

— Larissa Puro