Meet our scholarship recipients: Isabella Hauptman

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Isabella Hauptman is a 2020 recipient of the Keck School of Medicine scholarship for incoming master’s students. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology degree at USC. She was selected as valedictorian of USC’s Class of 2020.

What has been your journey so far?

Isabella Hauptman (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

My name is Isabella Hauptman and I am in the final year of my Progressive master’s degree in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology. In May of 2020, I was selected to serve as the Valedictorian of USC Class of 2020 and graduated with a degree in Cognitive Science and a minor in Public Health. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and attended Grover Cleveland High School (go Cavs!). I developed an interest in public health early in life and have been pursuing my dream of becoming an epidemiologist ever since.

What drives you to get involved in the population and public health sciences field?

Interestingly enough, I have wanted to become an epidemiologist since the age of eleven. My introduction to epidemiology came from rudimentary elementary school lessons on the Black Plague, which inspired me to conduct my own research on the transmission of diseases. Needless to say, I was instantly sold on epidemiology. The field of epidemiology and more generally public health is critical to the progress of humankind. Years later, I find myself just as (if not more) passionate about epidemiology.

What led you to the Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology degree at USC?

I made the decision to attend USC as an undergraduate because I was drawn to the Progressive Degree Program (PDP). The PDP allows undergraduate students to take graduate courses and work toward the completion of a master’s degree. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become an epidemiologist and planned to attend graduate school. The PDP would enable me to accelerate my studies and begin my career in epidemiology early. USC was the clear choice for this reason. I decided to complete the MS in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology because it directly aligned with my interests and career goals.

What does this scholarship mean to you?

I cannot overstate what the Dean’s scholarship means to me and my family. I am immensely grateful to have been selected as a recipient of the scholarship, which has afforded me the opportunity to pursue my lifelong passion.

What has been your experience at USC so far?

My experience at USC has been nothing short of amazing. I cherish the memories and friendships I’ve made both as an undergraduate and graduate student. I feel incredibly honored to learn from the best professors and mentors in the field. It is a unique experience to be studying epidemiology in the midst of a pandemic and now, more than ever, I am grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference.

How do you see your degree helping to drive your future?

The MS in Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology will propel my career forward as an epidemiologist. The training I received in the program has undoubtedly prepared me to enter the field. I am excited to apply what I have learned at USC to tackle the challenges we currently face in public health, whether it be Covid-19, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, or other conditions. My ultimate goal is to pursue a PhD in Epidemiology.

How are you making a difference in public health outside of the classroom?

I currently volunteer for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the Biobehavioral Pain Laboratory. The laboratory focuses on research projects that investigate the use of technology (specifically virtual reality) to reduce pain and anxiety during medical procedures. I am approaching my third anniversary at CHLA, a milestone I am very proud of! I am also involved in the USC Chapter of Camp Kesem, which provides support to children through and beyond a parent’s cancer diagnosis. It is my fifth year with the organization and quite easily the highlight of my time at USC.

What message would you like to share with your scholarship donor?

I wish to express my sincerest gratitude for your more than generous contribution to my education. Your generosity is truly a testament to the good-will of the Trojan Family, a community where I so proudly belong. I am confident that my studies will enable me to enter a field where I will make a lasting difference. Your generosity is truly inspiring and I hope that one day I will be in the position to give this gift to another student like me. Thank you for helping me fulfill my dreams and continue my education at USC!