PHAP student profile: Monica Palese

									Charlie Plain |
																			June 11, 2014

Monica PaleseMonica Palese’s first exposure to public health was with her grandparents, who volunteered at a leprosy rehabilitation clinic in Ganta, Liberia for over thirty years.

“They fostered a relationship between Ganta and their hometown of West Allis, Wisconsin to facilitate support, understanding and camaraderie—even during years of turmoil and civil war in Liberia,” says Palese.

She was inspired by her grandparents’ accomplishments and wondered, “If they did that much without any university-level education, what would I be able to accomplish with an advanced degree?”

As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Palese competed for the Wisconsin Triathlon Team. She volunteered locally with teammates at community centers with low-income children, at local races, and at restoration projects in the university’s arboretum. She also served as a volunteer lifeguard on Madison’s lakes for open-water swimming events.

Palese traveled to Mexico, the Philippines, Chile, Jordan and across Europe. It was through these travels that she met with local people and noted cultural differences that affected the health of different populations.

Palese eventually moved to Barranquilla, Colombia, where she worked at a school and shadowed researchers in the epidemiology department at a local university. She also coached a children’s volleyball team and volunteered with Un Techo para mi País, where she worked with Colombian medical students to build houses and provide support for those who were displaced by guerilla attacks in the mountains. Afterward, she spent a brief period working at various schools in Cantabria, Spain.

Palese remains busy while she attends the PHAP program. She has been involved in several local organizations:

  •  MNsure: Helping launch a media campaign and coordinating community outreach events before and throughout MNsure’s first open-enrollment period as a state intern
  • Estudio de Telebebidas: Volunteering on a UMN research team studying sugared-beverage consumption, television time and childhood obesity
  • William Mitchell College of Law Public Health Law Center: Conducting policy analysis on 50 schools in Wisconsin and providing guidance on how to improve existing policy language to increase physical activity in schools
  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board: Managing the city’s waterpark, training lifeguards and participating in the Minnesota Water Safety Coalition to advocate for water safety education and drowning prevention efforts across Minnesota
  • School of Public Health: Representing the school as a student ambassador and promoting the benefits of an advanced degree in public health
  • University of Minnesota Triathlon Team: Competing as a student-athlete and volunteering with teammates at local events for the Team Ortho Foundation
  • University of Minnesota McNamara Academic Center: Mentoring current student-athletes

Palese’s primary interests are in obesity prevention and health disparities, particularly as they relate to sustaining health across the lifecourse. She is also interested in fostering global cooperation to translate emerging research and ideas into policies across our country and around the world.

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