I AM FPHLP 2019: Diana Peña

Diana Pena, FPHLP 2019

Diana Peña was part of the Michigan FPHLP 2019 cohort. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with her Bachelor's degree in Public Health and a minor in Studio Art. In Summer 2019, she interned at Washtenaw County Health Department Emergency Preparedness Division in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

At her field placement, Diana shadowed public health professionals in the Washtenaw County Health Department such as the Medical Director and epidemiologists, among others. She was also able to sit in a committee hearing where emergency preparedness administrators came to discuss improvements in preparing for emergencies and how that affects parts of the community differently. She was also able to connect with the Washtenaw community by helping the health department distribute food. Most importantly, Diana was able to write a literature review about youth gun violence in the Washtenaw County Health Department. Her experience demonstrated the different aspects of government and health and how these two merged to help keep a healthier community.

Diana was motivated to participate in FPHLP because she wanted to receive more exposure in the public health field. As a recently declared public health major, she didn't know too much about the public health field. The program not only offered that but provided mentorship, internship, and community service opportunities. Diana was also eager to go to the CDC towards the end of the program.

For Diana, the highlight of FPHLP was the connections she made with the people in the program. During the program she was surrounded by peers who all had a passion for public health, which reaffirmed her decision to pursue the healthcare field. Diana was also surprised that in 10 weeks, she was able to be part of a close-knit community. She appreciated the community she became a part of. Whether it was talking to different UM faculty/staff or going on a trip to Canada and Chicago with her peers, Diana felt motivated to be part of this experience.

One of Diana’s most significant challenges was her experience with imposter's syndrome. She didn't believe that she had gotten into FPHLP and deserved to be there. However, through her mentors and peers in cluster five she was assured that they were all well-deserving of their program's position. Her mentor's advice helped Diana overcome the doubt she had in herself. One of her major memories of the program was during a panel, where one of the mentors told the FPHLPers, "you are your worth, your existence is your worth." That quote stuck with her because it made Diana realize that we choose to make our own experience and if we go through life doubting ourselves we will never feel fulfilled in our careers. 

After leaving FPHLP, Diana participated in a multi-country study abroad program that went to three distinct countries (Vietnam, South Africa, and Argentina) to learn about health and community. She was grateful to participate in FPHLP because she was able to apply the knowledge she learned to her study abroad program. After studying abroad, Diana had one more semester of school left before she graduated. She is currently working as a medical scribe at a community hospital in South Central Los Angeles and as a coordinator for program services at a nonprofit center for homeless women in Downtown Los Angeles. 

Diana hopes to pursue her medical career with a master's in public health. In the future, she wants to practice medicine and work with an underserved community internationally/domestically while still maintaining the creative aspect of herself by painting in her free time. To someone applying to FPHLP, she advises that you don't doubt your academic achievements or experiences and apply. It can seem daunting, but it never hurts to try. 


Diana shared some photos from her study abroad trip after participating in FPHLP. Image on the left was taken on the southern most tip of Africa between two oceans. Image on the right is Diana in Hanoi, Vietnam at turtle lake. 

Diana Pena, FPHLP 2019    Diana Pena, FPHLP 2019