Skip to Content

Arnold School of Public Health


Public health grad Andrea Ayers will build on B.A. with an MPH in global health

June 23, 2016

The University of South Carolina was on Andrea (Andie) Ayers’ short list of potential college options when a particularly severe snowstorm in her hometown of Rochester, Minn. pushed our warm-climate institution to the top. “I had been seriously considering USC because of a scholarship, but the perks of the weather solidified my decision,” she says.

Ayers, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and a Minor in Anthropology, first became interested in public health through a program for American students to teach health education in rural Ghana the summer before her freshman year. “It really opened my eyes to what is possible within health promotion and fostered my interest in global health,” she says. “However, it also made me realize that some international aid is not always sustainable. Aid and development must be supported internally by the community, and those who administer aid must have the appropriate resources and skills for that community.”

My heart and soul has been with GlobeMed for the past three years. This organization has taught me so much practical knowledge about sustainable development and partnership.

-Andie Ayers, B.A. in Public Health

This newfound awareness prompted Ayers to learn more about the various diseases the world faces, as well sustainable development, through her public health program at the Arnold School and her anthropology courses. Outside the classroom, the Woodrow Scholar participated in the Public Health Society (Director of Community Outreach), Changing Carolina Peer Leaders, and the Social Justice Activist Program.

She also gained experience in obesity prevention research through Professor Dawn Wilson’s Project FIT. Ayers has already presented a poster, “Health-Related Behavior Tracking: Measuring Self-Monitoring in Project FIT Participants,” at Discovery Day based on her work with Project FIT and is currently writing a paper on a related project that she funded with a Magellan grant. “Project FIT has been a great experience, and I hope to continue community-based research in the future,” she says.

Her greatest public health passion during her undergraduate tenure, however, has been USC’s GlobeMed, a student-driven, non-profit organization committed to improving global health and social justice. “My heart and soul has been with GlobeMed for the past three years,” says Ayers, who served as Campaigns Coordinator and President for the organization and spent a month interning with them in India where she conducted media collection and evaluation. “This organization has taught me so much practical knowledge about sustainable development and partnership.”

Get involved with organizations and groups that interest you and try as many new things as possible as an undergrad. These experiences helped me learn about what I really love to do.

-Andie Ayers, B.A. in Public Health

Ayers will build on her international experience this fall when she enrolls in George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health where she will pursue a Master of Public Health in Global Health Epidemiology and Disease Control. “This is a two-year program that will open many doors for me in terms of global health experiences and opportunities,” she says. “My hope is that my MPH program will give me a better understanding of the global systems that influence health and what we can do as individuals to improve them.”

For current and future Arnold School undergrads, Ayers shares the same advice that she received from her father—who, along with her mother, has been incredibly supportive of her undergraduate experience and her public health goals. “Get involved with organizations and groups that interest you and try as many new things as possible as an undergrad,” she says. “These experiences helped me learn about what I really love to do.”

I have had many professors who I have looked up to as mentors and continue to ask for advice even after my classes have ended.

-Andie Ayers, B.A. in Public Health

She also recommends taking professors out for coffee as those conversations taught her more about their respective fields than a textbook ever could. “I have had many professors who I have looked up to as mentors and continue to ask for advice even after my classes have ended,” she says. “Dr. David Simmons, Dr. April Winningham, Dr. Linda Hazlett, and Dr. Spencer Moore are all great professors who relate to my field and who have made a difference in my time at USC. My advisor, Mrs. Christine Palmer, has also always been there for me with advice and opportunities that have been priceless.”

After she completes her master’s degree, Ayers would like to begin her career in research. “Eventually, I’d like to work my way up through large-scale global organizations, such as the United Nations,” she says. “I’m very interested in global infectious disease control, ecological sustainability, and cultural approaches to health and wellness, and I’m open to the possibilities of where my career will take me.”