Sara Soka

I began my fellowship in July 2009, and was placed at the Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program within the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Before the fellowship, I completed a MS in Population Health Sciences at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

What makes public health as a field so attractive to me is that generalists fit so well within it. With some exceptions, you need to have curiosity and knowledge about a broad range of subjects, and skills all over the map to do it well. You’re constantly learning – you have to. Almost every public health issue involves questions of human behavior and motivation. What else could be so fascinating, challenging, and rewarding as trying to understand why people do what they do, and creatively finding ways to make it easier for people to make healthy choices?

My main areas of interest within public health during my fellowship have been the nutrition and built environment. But one area I’d like to explore more is public health communication. Nothing impresses me more than when I see a complex topic explained so the general public can understand it, but still experience its nuances. There are so many forms of media available now, all ways to reach people with health messaging – what an opportunity for the field.