School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Student Profile

Kylie Sommerville image
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Mode of study : 
Full-time; Internal face-to-face classes
Country : 
Australia
Previous Education : 
Bachelor of Environmental Management

I was looking to do further study, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. My undergraduate degree was in Environmental Management and I had been working for several years in various government sector policy and stakeholder engagement roles. It was great professional experience, but I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. I wanted to find a Masters degree where I could build on my current skills, but transfer them into a field that was health and people-centred, particularly focusing on equity and social justice issues. I also wanted to study face-to-face, so I needed a university that was in Sydney. The Master of Public Health (MPH) at UNSW ticked all these boxes for me.

Most important thing learned

I now see public heath as being related to almost everything! I have developed a critical lens through which to see health as the product of complex interactions between our social, political, cultural and physical environments. I’ve learned that understanding the specific contexts in which people live their lives, and addressing the upstream drivers of social disadvantage, are critical to improving health outcomes. 

Most challenging thing

I undertook an independent research project as part of my degree on drug policy. I didn’t plan to take a research component in my Masters when I first started studying, but it ended up being the highlight of my program. It was challenging, as I had never done this kind of research project before, but also hugely rewarding and satisfying. 

Enjoyed the most

Meeting the diverse range of students that take the course. People come from all over the world to study the MPH at UNSW. My peers had a broad range of knowledge and experience that enriched my learning and understanding of public health, especially within a global context. It added a lot of value to my studies. 

Message to newly commencing students

Don’t feel intimidated by studying the MPH if you don’t come from a health-related background. There will be other students like you in the course. Public health applies to a wide range of professions and is very broad; there are many different avenues you can pursue with this qualification. Your previous experiences will bring a certain perspective to the course that other students will benefit from as well. 

How degree will assist in your career

My degree has already opened doors for my career and I have secured a job in the health sector. I have also gained strong research skills that I will be able to use in a professional capacity. I made the right choice studying the MPH at UNSW and I look forward to continuing to build my career in this field.