The Office of Public Health Career Services supports students and alumni in exploring, discovering, and identifying their individual career pathways. Our services are structured around the Career Development Framework to guide students in making informed career decisions and optimize their career opportunities. Come meet with us and together we can find your career path in public health.
Paula Amezola has invested nearly 20 years in the field of public health working in various capacities including research, program evaluation, advocacy and career development. Despite a wide gamut of experience, Mrs. Amezola has predominately focused on access and equity issues, specifically as it relates to underserved communities. Her life philosophy is to always go beyond her self-interests, find commonalities inherent in humanity and be her best self. Mrs. Amezola received her MPH in Epidemiology at the University of California Los Angeles, where she was trained in survey development, program evaluation, data analysis, data mining and data reporting. She believes that this training can be applied to any issue that requires telling a story with data. As the Partnership Program Coordinator for the National Cancer Institute, she worked closely with non-profits on community asset mapping, coalition building, and grant writing. During her time at the NCI, she established more than 200 professional relationships and led the development of tracking tools, database infrastructure and evaluation plans for 8 projects with partnering organizations and key stakeholders. Additionally, she was the lead epidemiologist at the LAGLC clinic, a sentinel surveillance site for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Mrs. Amezola presented the center’s data at National HIV Prevention Conferences. The CDC recognized the study on Crystal Meth Use Among HIV Positive Clients and had a press release in major newspapers including the LA Times. Mrs. Amezola is bringing this experience to Keck School of Medicine of USC. As the founder of Public Health Career Services, she has planned and implemented every aspect of the program, while working seamlessly with all academic departments. The key to the success of Public Health Career Services is Mrs. Amezola’s initiative to evaluate the program and to actively listen to the students, faculty and the leadership during the development and maintenance phase of the program. She is excited to coach public health professionals and help them explore, discover and navigate their public health careers.
Gilbert Orta Portillo is a first-year MPH student in the Community Health Promotion track driven to assess social and environmental conditions that can influence an individual’s health behavior. He is passionate about advocating for socioeconomic and health equity and the recognition and inclusion of marginalized communities. Gilbert is experienced in health education, analyzing qualitative and qualitative data, and conducting ethnographic work. During his undergraduate career at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Gilbert’s work focused on analyzing social influences and their effects on perceived social hierarchies, particularly within the queer and people-of-color communities. His thesis, “Aiding the Epidemic: The Effects of PrEP, PEP, and TasP on the Historical Stigmatization of HIV & AIDS” introduced him into public health, and he has since then emphasized an empathetic approach for interventions towards vulnerable communities. As of Spring 2020, Gilbert joined the Public Health Career Services office as an administrative assistant for event planning and marketing. He is excited about his new role and duties as he believes it is an opportunity to strengthen the public health workforce. He is looking forward to becoming a peer adviser also he will be able to continue promoting empathetic listening while encouraging and guiding his fellow Trojans to become effective public health professionals.
Nicole Mercado is a second-year MPH student in the Community Health Promotion track driven to develop and implement health communication strategies to help individuals make healthy lifestyle choices, improve health literacy, and promote prevention through health education campaigns. Moreover, she is passionate about advocating for social justice, health equity, cultural inclusion, and fostering healthy and safer environments for all. Nicole is experienced in health education, communications and marketing, and student services. During her first year internship at L.A. Care Healthcare Plan, she developed evidence-based health educational activities, evaluated programs through quantitative and qualitative analyses, and trained health promoters on cancer and women’s health topics. Starting in Fall 2019, she became an administrative assistant for the Public Health Career Services office assisting in event planning and marketing. She is also the communications intern for the Preventive Medicine Department, where she manages social media and websites, and develops marketing strategies. Nicole is a proud Trojan who serves as an MPH Student Ambassador, available to help prospective students with their application process questions. Nicole enjoys building stronger connections with peers and is excited to step into her new role as a peer adviser, supporting the Public Health Career Services office in guiding students to find their career path and reaching their highest potential.