Student Spotlight: Valerie Madas

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Undergraduate degree: Nursing

Brown School program: MPH

Anticipated graduation: May 2021

Three things you have with you at all times: Mask, phone, existential dread

What are your hobbies or activities when you aren’t studying or working?

Most things outside–hiking, biking, running, and even taking my cat on a “walk”.

What made you interested in studying public health?

I remember doing clinical rotations at the hospital and feeling a deep sadness that most people were going back to the same situations that gave rise totheir health problems that led them to the hospital. I hadn’t learned the term “social determinants of health” yet, but that’s when I began piecing togetherthat our health is so much more complex than most of us realize.

What were you doing before you came to the Brown School?

Peace Corps! Though I worked for several years as a nurse and still do, I took a little break from nursing to gain public health experience as a health educator. My time in Mongolia was really special and I became very good at layering clothes for the winter (it’s not uncommon to see temps at -40F!).

What would people be surprised to know about you?

As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I was always drawn to mountains and mountaineering–even though I had never seen a mountain in real life until my early 20’s. If I had to choose another career path, I would definitely be mountain guide and work on making outdoor spaces accessible (not just for those with certain privileges).