Javier Muñiz received his master of public health (MPH) from the College of Public Health in 2012. He is currently operations manager at Temple University Health System. Here, Javier shares what makes the program unique.
What did you like about Temple’s MPH program?
I knew that public health was my niche. Temple’s program touched on epidemiology, environmental health, even the healthcare sector, which is where I am now. Beyond the diversity of the program, it gave me the skills to think critically. Public health is a very people-oriented field, too. The MPH program helped me build up those people skills while also looking at things from a 10,000-foot view.
How did the diversity of the program prepare you for what you’re doing today?
In healthcare management, you never know what you’re going to get. You’re handed a situation or an issue, and you’re expected to come at it from different perspectives. I look very closely at how one process can affect an individual and a greater population. We think it’s something simple, but sometimes one thing has a big impact, whether for good or for bad.
What got you interested in public health?
I started college as a biology major, and in my sophomore year I took a course called HIV/AIDS in Society. That was my “aha” moment. I knew public health was exactly where I wanted to be. Sexual health was a taboo topic when I was growing up, so that whole course really changed my thinking. The professor became an important mentor.
What was it about that professor that really energized you?
She was very approachable. She was always there anytime I needed her. Even to this day, I still reach out to her. She’s really down to earth, and very nurturing – she’s really involved in the students, and she wants you to understand what you’re learning. That’s what I think sets Temple professors apart.
This professor also invested a lot in helping us to develop as scholars and researchers. My thesis looked at perceptions of help-seeking behaviors among military cadets. She and another professor went with me to a military college – we surveyed the cadets, and developed the project from idea to published paper. That whole process was a great learning experience for me.
How did the MPH program transform how you think about yourself?
Before coming to the MPH program, I didn’t think much about how health issues can affect an entire population. As a Hispanic/Latino in Philadelphia, I have family history of heart disease; minority populations are at greater risk for diseases like that. For me, eating better and working out have changed the way I think about myself and my own health. And now I’m in a position to develop programs and other solutions that can have a positive impact on other Latinos in the community.
What sets Temple apart from other schools?
The staff and faculty—the professors challenge students on a day-to-day basis, whether in in-class activities or outside of class. And everybody is so open to discussion. Maybe there’s something you don’t agree with—but being able to have a cordial discussion and explore different perspectives is so important.