As a student at the Yale School of Public Health, Jessica Ainooson, M.P.H. ’22, is working to make the world a healthier place.
Ainooson, whose academic focus is social and behavioral sciences, recently spent her gap year assessing how COVID-19 has impacted Black and Brown populations in New Haven for the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE).
Co-housed at Southern Connecticut State University’s School of Health and Human Services and the Yale School of Public Health, CARE works in collaboration with local community partners to improve health in New Haven by identifying solutions to health challenges through community-based research.
As she returns to her studies this fall, Ainooson hopes to continue her work at the Neighborhood Health Project, an interdisciplinary collaboration between students at the Yale schools of medicine, nursing, and public health, and the Physician Associate Program, which provides free blood pressure and blood glucose screenings in New Haven.
It’s all part of her plan to help communities around the world, starting with New Haven.
“I have really big dreams,” Ainooson said. “If I’m being honest …my dream of a lifetime would be to run an international global health organization like the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders. I’m really interested in global health.”
For Ainooson, public health is as interesting as it is personal. Her family is from Ghana, and she’s passionate about improving health outcomes and infrastructure in developing nations. She’s also passionate about addressing health care inequities, wherever they exist.
“We talk about global health and think that it has to happen outside of the U.S., but that’s not necessarily true,” she said. “I think, to me, what’s really important is trying to fix health care disparities, whether that’s in the U.S. or abroad. Especially when you think about racial disparities.”
The opportunities Ainooson has engaged in during her time at Yale have helped her advance toward a future career in public health. And New Haven has been a great place to sharpen her skills thanks to outreach programs at YSPH, she added.
“I feel like the Yale School of Public Health definitely makes more of an effort to conduct programs that are community-focused,” she explained. “I’ve found it easier to engage in things that bring me closer to New Haven and make it feel more like a home that I’m invested in.”
Ainooson said New Haven’s public health landscape has become more familiar to her than her own hometown of Boston. As she studies, works and learns more about public health, Ainooson is excited to continue applying her knowledge within New Haven communities in need this fall.
“There’s just so much to learn as a student, and it doesn’t just go one way,” she said. “New Haven has been such a resilient city.”