Rebekah McCosby MPH’23 works with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in Switzerland.

Rebekah McCosby MPH’23 likes to describe herself as a generalist. She began her undergraduate degree studying nursing, but quickly realized it wasn’t for her and switched to biology. After graduation, she worked in a community retail pharmacy and then in a cancer research lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. She was always interested in the health sciences, but she found it hard to commit to any specific career path.

“I was applying to PhD programs and getting feedback that I didn’t have a clear enough focus of what I wanted to study. In the hard sciences, you could spend five years studying one molecule, and I realized I didn’t want to have such a limited scope,” McCosby says.

McCosby was still discerning her future career path when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. She saw the need for clear public messaging around the virus and public health initiatives. Seeing the gap between the science and public perceptions galvanized her to look into a career in public health, where she could help bridge that gap.

It was around this time that Rebekah discovered the Master of Public Health program at the University of Puget Sound. She reached out to the program’s director at the time, Cara Frankenfeld. She learned that Puget Sound’s program was brand new—and that students would have a chance to shape its trajectory.

“That was really exciting,” McCosby recalls. “It was apparent from my very first class that public health as a field is so expansive. I was very interested in disease, but someone else in my cohort wanted to focus on nutrition and food access. The umbrella of public health is big enough to encompass it all, so we had the freedom to pursue our own passions.”