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Public Health Major's Worldly Upbringing Inspires Her to Improve Care Worldwide

Public Health Major's Worldly Upbringing Inspires Her to Improve Care Worldwide
From the Netherlands to Nigeria to the College of Natural Sciences, Nicole Kruijs wants to explore where public health meets government policy.

NicoleSecond-year public health major Nicole Kruijs was seven, and standing in a never-ending line at a clinic in Nigeria, when she realized she wanted to devote her life to public health.

“I saw the healthcare, or lack thereof, in that clinic,” she said. “The lines were long, there was a lack of nurses, they ran out of vaccines often, and the lights would go out and cause surgeries to be halted. I knew things needed to be better.”

Born in the Netherlands, Kruijs lived in Nigeria for a time because her father’s job as a geologist for an oil company took them there.

When it was time to apply to college, Kruijs, who was by that point living in The Woodlands, Texas, sent out applications to 12 schools. She decided The University of Texas at Austin was her best fit in large part because of its undergraduate degree in public health.

“I am very pleased with the program,” she said. “We have professors who are fresh out of the field and ready to teach us and help us learn of other opportunities such as internships.”

Kruijs’ resume is chock-full of internship and research experience. She currently holds a public health policy internship at the Capitol, has done research on the connection between climate change and HIV/AIDS at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, participated in the Freshman Research Initiative, and done summer research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“I really enjoy health policy,” said Kruijs, who is also a Plan II major. “Interning at the Capitol isn’t just sorting through legislation. I really enjoy it. I always try to be actively gaining experience. I treat finding opportunities like a class. I sit for an hour a day and look online for things to get involved with.”

Kruijs is really interested in where basic science and public health meet government and policy. She believes the secret is helping people so they can help themselves.

“I really do believe that health is a human right and I think everyone should have access to healthcare,” she added. “And I have realized that a lot of it comes down to health policy but it gets bogged down in bureaucracy. I want to translate the science into working with people and working with governments.”

Her dream job is working for the World Health Organization or the United Nations. She plans to attend medical school so she can use that degree in consulting.

“Public health at UT is such an amazing program and Austin is so full of opportunities with the Capitol and other great institutions nearby,” Kruijs said. “We need more people to go into public health. It is the health of our world.”

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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