Diversity Makes the Real Difference

In Wisconsin, African Americans and Hispanics face significant health disparities that directly affect every part of our communities of color—from income to education to average lifespan. Creating a diverse public health workforce is a crucial step in eliminating these disparities, and ultimately make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Students of color want a fulfilling future and the ability to create positive change in their communities, and that’s what makes a career in public health one of the most promising paths!

Diversity Matters is a statewide initiative with the goal of increasing the diversity of Wisconsin’s public health workforce by inspiring African American and Hispanic students in middle school, high school and college to pursue a career in public health. Diversity Matters is funded wholly by the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Public Health Professionals: Our REAL Superheroes

See how they use their unique knowledge and skills everyday, to make a real difference in the real world.

Lilliann Paine

Superpower: Family Living Program Educator
Family Development Department, UW- Extension Milwaukee County

I chose my career in response to the health disparities I saw growing up in Milwaukee. As one of the premier graduates of the Zilber School of Public Health, it has been a thrilling experience to partake in laying the foundation for future generations of public health leaders. The training received from the Master in Public Health program has equipped me with the capacity to develop comprehensive interventions that address structural inequalities, while advancing evaluation methods that foster the ability to eliminate disparities

Margarita Avila

Superpower:  Multicultural Initiatives Coordinator
American Heart Association

My biggest rewards are the personal satisfactions that come from making a difference in the lives of people in my community. I am passionate about health and education and how nonprofits can increase access to health care and supplies, especially among minority population. As a Latina, my Latino community influences me. The health of my Latino community is often shaped by factors such as language/cultural barriers, lack of access to preventive care, and the lack of health insurance – I would love to change this in my community.


DeMarco Bowen

Superpower: MD-MPH Candidate
Class of 2018 , University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Luckily, in this field [public health] there are always people to reach out to! Colleagues, mentors, friends, and professionals in various fields are usually willing to collaborate with you provided you have a good clear plan of something you want to work on. I can also say that working in an academic institution like UW-Madison, networking is pretty easy! There’s a great, strong infrastructure of people and resources, and there will almost certainly be someone to help push you in the right direction.


Dina Garcia

Superpower: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Dows Institute for Dental Research, The University of Iowa College of Dentistry

One of the benefits of pursuing a research career in public health is having the opportunity to build your own research program that is centered on focus areas that you are passionate about. As a Latina immigrant that grew up in Milwaukee, I am passionate about improving the health of Latinos in my hometown and across the U.S. Most recently, I hosted a diabetes and oral health art gallery to raise awareness of the oral health needs of Mexican-origin Latinos with diabetes within the city of Milwaukee. It was so amazing to see so many community members come together to advocate for better access to dental care in our city.

Nayeli Spahr

Superpower: Medical Student
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Public health in many ways is a career of service to the greater good and has elements of social justice at its core. Find out what about public health interests you – community engagement, policy, epidemiology, environmental activism, disease prevention and, seek out volunteer/job opportunities that allow you to incorporate that passion.


Ashley Hines

Superpower: Program Manager
Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Medical College of Wisconsin

Public health is a science and an art. I appreciate the opportunity to live in both worlds. In addition, the chance to promote health (albeit indirectly) and supporting a diverse and inclusive healthcare professional workforce is incredibly appealing. I truly believe the more the healthcare profession reflects the community it serves, the better the health outcomes will be.

Joelisa Castillo

Superpower: Community Health Worker
Lead Coordinator, United Voices

Being a Community Health Worker (CHW) for the past 10 years, I have lots of experience in chronic disease self-management and leadership development. I have been engaged in many initiatives regarding CHWs in the State of WI and Nationally. As the co-founder and lead coordinator of United Voices– I have been working with a vast number of CHWs and the State Health Department to strengthen the CHWs field in the state of WI.

TeAngelo Cargile Jr.

Superpower: Community Health Education Specialist
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin

Being a young black man in the field of public health is a struggle within itself. You do not see individuals in the work force that look like you, talk like you, or can relate to the community they have been tasked with serving. Constantly seeing the majority speak for the minority’s needs will always be hard to swallow. I resolved that by finding a way into the system through joining boards, volunteering, and speaking up for the people that have similar backgrounds to mine. Changing from within is always key for systematic change.

Career Opportunities with REAL Potential

There are limitless career paths in public health. So many ways to improve the lives of others in your community and beyond. What are your strengths? Where do your interests lie? No matter what your answers to those questions are, there is a place for you in public health! There is an ever-growing need for public health professionals in a broad range of fields.

Follow along with our #mypublichealthfuture series! Each month we will explore a different career in #publichealth. Click here to see the latest edition.


Funding Your Public Health Degree

Whether you choose to attend a technical school or pursue an associate, bachelor, master or doctorate degree, there are many ways to make your public health degree more affordable:
– Scholarships and grants – some exclusively for African American, Hispanic and Latino students
– Loan forgiveness programs
– Other financial support
Explore the possibilities. Make obtaining financial assistance a priority, setting aside a few hours every week. Now’s the time to start your search!



Powerful Learning Opportunities

There are lots of summer learning programs, pre-college programs, networking and mentoring opportunities, co-ops and paid internships available to high school and college students interested in a public health career – whether you’ve already decided it’s for you, or want to learn what it’s like.

Use Your Power – Change Our World!


  • Discover the vast career options in public health – talk to your career counselor and visit
  • Visit to check out the many available internships, learning programs, and networking and mentorship opportunities.
  • Explore the many scholarship and funding opportunities.
  • Check out the DIVERSITY MATTERS brochure to learn more about careers in public health.
  • Read “10 Things to Know Before You Apply


  • Talk to your children about their hopes, their dreams – their future.
  • Visit your school’s career counselor to discuss the many paths to a career in public health.
  • Help your child create a plan for entering a career in public health.
  • Check out the DIVERSITY MATTERS brochure to learn more about Diversity Matters and career options in public health.
  • Encourage, support, and motivate. Everyday!


  • Inform students about the tremendous possibilities in a Public Health degree.
  • Promote the Diversity Matters initiative, its resources and events.


  • Provide internship, job shadowing, or mentoring opportunities.
  • Exhibit at the yearly public health career fair. Check out for more information.
  • Become a WPHA member and list your job postings to draw a diverse pool of applicants.