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SPHIS Alumna Spotlight: Sashia Torres

Name: Sashia Torres
Degree: MPH in Epidemiology, BA Public Health
Graduation Date: 2019 & 2017

Despite the damage caused by COVID-19, it has shined a light on public health careers and the importance of a strong public health infrastructure. SPHIS alumna, Sashia Torres, has benefited from the investments made in state and local public health in response to the pandemic.

Sashia works as an Epidemiologist III at the Florida State Health Department. She explained how the pandemic helped open the door for her current role as additional funding allowed agencies to hire more epidemiologists.

Sashia graduated from SPHIS in 2017 with a BA in public health and then again in 2019 with an MPH with a concentration in epidemiology. She said, “My degree from the SPHIS program provided me with the knowledge and credentials necessary for the public health field.  I not only gained knowledge and support within the classrooms, but also intelligent and experienced mentors to guide me on my career path.”

Shortly after graduation, Sashia relocated to Florida and secured a position at a county health department. Her first position did not exactly meet her career goals, but it was in public health field and she knew it was “just the beginning of my opportunities as a public health specialist.”

She worked her way up the ranks to epidemiologist after holding several other positions including senior clerk, health services representative, and environmental health specialist. In these roles she assisted with community outreach to combat the local hepatitis A epidemic, performed rapid HIV testing, and collected beach samples to analyze for harmful contaminants.

In her current role as an epidemiologist, she is responsible for investigating disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, salmonella, hepatitis, and other illnesses. She builds relationships with healthcare providers and officials to gather records pertaining to these illnesses. After conducting research, she follows up and completes an in-depth interview or site inspection to understand exposure and possible contacts. This information helps the health department notify the public and identify potential outbreaks to help prevent people from getting sick. All findings are reported to the Regional Epidemiologist and any other regulating agencies.

Sashia concluded by telling current students to stay open to opportunities and build their resumes by taking advantage of internships. “When first starting my career in Public Health, I did not get the job of my choice, but it got my foot in the door to allow me to prove myself as an employee in general.”

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