During the summer following her freshman year at IUPUI, Luz Machuca traveled abroad to Salamanca, Spain for six weeks. There, she met Haley, a student enrolled at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health who was majoring in community health. After talking with her new friend, Luz wanted to learn more.
“She gave me a brief overview of community health that made me investigate and do my own research,” Luz said. “I loved that community health was such a broad field and you could take different paths in the actual job/career you decided upon. It was not a cookie cutter major.”
When Luz returned to the states, she went to talk with Leah, an undergraduate academic advisor at the Fairbanks School of Public Health, and she enrolled as a pre-community health major.
“After a few classes, I knew I was on the right career path – although my friends and family did not really understand what I was going to be doing after college,” said Luz, who said finding the right major was not easy.
“Being a first-generation student who grew up on the east side of Indianapolis, and attended IPS schools, I was not really exposed to the number of careers out there or majors that I could major in. I knew about the common career choices like nursing, dentistry, law, and business, but I had never heard about community health or public health Feeling overwhelmed, lost, and confused on what to major in, I entered IUPUI as an undecided major.”
While at IUPUI, Luz took advantage of many experiential opportunities. She traveled abroad twice, both to Spain and Nicaragua, where she was able to develop her Spanish fluency and interact with people of different cultural backgrounds. She also participated in a spring break alternative trip that IUPUI offers, during which she learned how to live without a cellphone or running water for a week.
During one spring break, she took a three-day cultural tour in Cincinnati, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan that was offered by the Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program, and TRIO Student Support Services Program at IUPUI.
“During this trip, I learned a lot more on how African-American slaves were brought against their will to this country and the horrible experiences they lived through during their voyage to the US, as well as their experiences once they arrived. This cultural tour offered me in-depth information about American history that is not thoroughly taught in school.
Luz was able to job shadow during her last year at Fairbanks, which led her to find a summer internship that would fulfill her last requirement for earning her bachelor’s degree in public health.
After graduating in 2019 with a BSPH in Community Health, she started a paid summer internship at the Youth Diabetes Prevention Clinic. In her new role, she assists with recruiting, planning, implementation, and evaluation of a new community diabetes prevention program. She also does data entry for participants and facilitates health education sessions.
“My degree is directly correlated with my current summer internship because I am evaluating, planning, and implementing an actual community health program for a priority population,” Luz said.
Luz is excited to start gaining experience in the field of public health. Her long-term career goal is to pursue a master’s degree in public health or business. She believes having a background in public health and earning a Master of Business Administration can make her more versatile and well-rounded.
“I like to go with the flow of life and see where it takes me, but I know that I will pursue higher education in the future.”