PhD Student, Epidemiology
Growing up in blue-collar Michigan provided Kara Rudolph with a strong sense of social justice. Her mother was a public health nurse who also ran a food bank; as a result, Rudolph and her brother met people whose lives were unlike their own. She attended schools where many students were poor.
When she left home for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Rudolph says it was a culture shock: “I didn’t realize how rare it was to have friends from so many different backgrounds and interact with so many types of people every day.”
After graduation, she landed a job in vaccine manufacture. Although vaccines improve the health of countless people around the world, the actual impact wasn’t readily apparent to her. She turned to the Bloomberg School where the MPH program gave her an opportunity to work on Apache and Navajo reservations in Arizona. There, she encountered a family of more than 10 crammed into a one-room house and met a girl who spent more than two hours a day collecting drinking water.
Now working toward a doctoral degree, Rudolph is studying how a person’s neighborhood can affect his risk of mental disorders. Real data precedes real change, she says: “What’s important to me is to be doing something that could help inform policies to lessen these inequities.”