For Aphrodyi Walker ’05, choosing a career involved more than simply considering her interests and abilities. She wanted her work to contribute to the greater good of her community.
When Walker enrolled at LMU, she wanted to major in biology, and she planned to become a physician. But her experiences changed her thinking. When she graduated from LMU, she had the degree in biology, but she had decided to pursue a career public health.
It was Barbara Christie, director of LMU’s Science and Engineering Community Outreach Program, who first told Walker about the field of public health. Christie encouraged several female students of color, including Walker, to pursue internships and degrees in the field. In fact, it was an internship in Birmingham, Ala., in the summer following her LMU graduation that played an important role in Walker’s journey. The internship included a class, which turned out to be especially significant because Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans during that time. She says, “We ended up talking about social disparities, race and access to health services [in class]. I was fascinated by all this.”
After her internship, Walker entered the Public Health Program at UCLA, focusing on community-based work, and she earned a master’s degree in 2008. Today, she is a health educator for the Riverside County Department of Health. Walker feels especially drawn to community work, and she hopes to eventually give back to her own community, South Central Los Angeles. But Walker has refined her focus even more: she has decided that one day she wants to be in a position to make decisions that assist communities in need, as well as individuals. To help her reach this goal, Walker is pursuing a master’s in public administration, which will complement her more care-oriented master’s in public health.
Walker’s vocational journey sometimes seems to be the result of confronting a need and realizing that she cares. But when asked why she thinks she has chosen her path, she responds confidently, “My concentration chose me.”