Campus News

Graduates from the Master of Public Health online program join their peers to cross the stage at commencement

Bokie Muigai May 14, 2024

Students from the Master of Public Health (MPH) online program came from near and far to attend the Keck School of Medicine of USC graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11 2024. Having completed their coursework fully online, the event brought together this cohort in-person to celebrate this milestone. Read about the experience of three online graduates from the class of 2024, and their pursuits in the field of public health.


smiling young woman
(Photo courtesy Kimberly Marie Parga)

Kimberly Marie Parga, MPH

MPH Concentration: Community Health Promotion

Parga is a first-generation college student who is passionate about bringing knowledge and resources to communities that can positively affect their health. The effects of the social determinants of health inspired her to study public health. During her time in this program, Parga was a Trojan Scholars for Advancement in Public Health (TSAPH) scholar, developing competencies to address health disparities among residents of Los Angeles. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in local health departments and contribute to public health interventions and health education.

Why did you choose to study at USC?

The Keck School of Medicine of USC’s mission statement resonates with my own—to make an impact on the health of our community. The impressive faculty and location of the program also aligned with my preferences when I was deciding where I wanted to further my education in public health.

What was your most impactful education experience at USC?

It was being able to strengthen my presentation and leadership skills during class presentations on public health topics that I am passionate about.

Where did you complete your practicum requirement?

I did my practicum at Pasadena Department of Public Health. A highlight of my practicum was being able to collaborate with program coordinators to promote mental health in the community. I had an opportunity to put my skills into practice by developing policy briefs to inform community members about mental health screening policies in health care and creating infographics and social media posts that provided knowledge on mental health resources.


smiling young woman
(Photo courtesy Thy TranHoang)

Thy TranHoang, MPH

MPH Concentration: Community Health Promotion

TranHoang is a first-generation college student interested in nutrition, women’s health, and sexual & reproductive health.

Her interest in public health was sparked during her undergraduate studies when she participated in a community outreach event. “I was fascinated by the impact that health education had on priority populations and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into content development.”

Why did you choose to study at USC?

I chose USC due to the opportunities that this program had to offer. There were resources, curricula, and requirements that other schools didn’t provide. I was also drawn to how welcoming and engaging the USC community was, from the information session facilitators, staff members, admissions counselors, to current students and alumni.

What was your most impactful education experience in this program?

It was deepening my knowledge and understanding of public health concepts at a graduate level. Almost everything that I learned as an undergraduate public health student seemed like a mere starting point for what was taught in this master’s program. Although that is expected, I initially did not expect the leap of knowledge to be as significant.

Where did you complete your practicum requirement?

I completed my practicum requirement at It’sFetch, a digital platform connecting women to health information. I experienced the creative and communications side of public health in contrast to the usual research and analysis that I often perform. The two skills that I was able to apply and further strengthen throughout the practicum were health communications and health education. This included health literacy, media advocacy, content development, applying theories, program implementation, and evaluation.


Kellie Dubel, MPH

MPH Concentration: Biostatistics-Epidemiology

Dubel’s interest in public health lies in understanding how diseases spread, analyzing patterns of health and illness on a global scale, and developing strategies to address public health challenges across borders. She is also intrigued by the intersection of public health and technology, including the role of data analytics and digital health solutions in improving health outcomes worldwide. After graduation, she will be moving to Washington DC to work as an analyst for the government.

Why did you choose to enroll at USC?

The Keck School of Medicine of USC boasts a distinguished faculty comprised of experts and leaders in various medical fields, offering students unparalleled access to mentorship and cutting-edge research opportunities. Additionally, its location in Los Angeles provides a unique clinical environment, exposing students to diverse patient populations and complex healthcare challenges. The school’s commitment to innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration ensures graduates are well-prepared to address the evolving landscape of healthcare. Moreover, the medical school’s emphasis on community engagement and service aligns with the values of many aspiring physicians, fostering a sense of social responsibility and compassion. Overall, the Keck School of Medicine stands out as a premier institution for those seeking a comprehensive and enriching medical education experience.

Where did you complete your practicum requirement?

I completed my practicum with Dr. Susanne Hempel through the Southern California Evidence Review Center. The highlight of my practicum experience as a literature reviewer was the opportunity to dive deep into the research on tethered spinal cords. I was able to contribute to a systematic review, which involved meticulously searching for relevant studies, extracting data, and synthesizing findings. During this experience, I honed my skills in literature search strategies, data extraction, and critical appraisal of scientific papers. I also developed a greater understanding of the importance of methodological rigor in research and the impact it has on the conclusions drawn. Overall, the practicum helped me refine my analytical and writing skills, which are crucial for conducting high-quality research in the field of public health.

Learn more about how the Keck School of Medicine is celebrating the Class of 2024.