University of Sourthern California


MPH student uses models to promote public health awareness

Ngoc Huynh holding miniatureOnline MPH student Ngoc Huynh is passionate about raising awareness of public health issues that impact people across the world. Born and raised in Vietnam, Ngoc and her family moved to the United States when she was 8 years old. She recalls developing interests in mental health and domestic violence from an early age and wanting to help erase the stigma for people seeking assistance.

“There is a lot of stigma and misinformation associated with these topics, so I feel a certain sense of responsibility when it comes to raising awareness for these issues and other issues in global health as I progress further in the program,” Ngoc said.

With the USC MPH, Ngoc is gaining the skills and knowledge to help shine a light on the public health topics that matter to her and make a difference on a global scale.


Unique opportunities and passionate faculty

“Initially, I chose the MPH online program at USC primarily for the program's flexibility and opportunities only USC offers — such as attending the World Health Organization's General Assembly in Switzerland' Ngoc said. “Being able to connect and learn from knowledgeable and passionate professors in global health has been a bonus of the program.”

Ngoc has been impressed by the diverse group of fellow students she has encountered in her classes, meeting people from all over the U.S. and around the world. She also lauded the program’s ability to fit into her life.

“I really enjoy having the flexibility to learn on a schedule that works best for me, while also allowing me to work and balance other aspects of my life,” she says.

Contributing to that flexibility is understanding faculty who are willing to work to accommodate students’ needs during challenging times.

“I have also appreciated the patience and kindness of professors such as Dr. Kim and Dr. Karim during this past semester considering the current state of the world and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ngoc said. “My favorite class thus far has been Introduction to Global Health with Dr. Withers. I enjoyed learning about her career and research along with the many interesting topics within global health.”


Transforming a hobby into a device for public health literacy

Ngoc started making miniatures and dioramas in 2018. It began out of nostalgia for her childhood in Vietnam, but quickly evolved into a tool to help raise awareness of important health issues.

She recently created a wheelchair miniature for International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“The wheelchair is actually my late grandmother's wheelchair, from when I first visited Vietnam. I hope to bring more awareness to those with disabilities and promote inclusivity and acceptance within the community,” she said.

Ngoc has created several miniatures to prompt discussion about topics ranging from women’s rights to climate change, as well as teaching others about the rich history and culture of Vietnam.

Miniature model of wheel chairSpreading the word about World Toilet Day

One of the topics Ngoc is passionate about involves an aspect of daily life that most of us take for granted — the availability of basic sanitation like toilets.

“I would like for people to be aware of the privilege in having access to toilets and private rooms,” Ngoc said. “In many parts of the world, open defecation is still practiced, with many people such as women and young girls at risk of assault and rape because they do not have access to safe toilets.”

She says she hopes people feel encouraged to learn more about World Toilet Day and help tackle the global sanitation crisis.

miniature of toiletLending a hand wherever it’s needed

Ngoc is hopeful that when she earns her degree it will put her on a path where she can make a difference in health on a global level.

“I hope to travel to Switzerland with my cohort next year, although ultimately I would like to work for the UN and utilize my MPH in Global Health to create and take part in public health interventions,” Ngoc said.

Suggested Reading

Global Equality and Public Health

Choosing a Public Health Concentration