Postgrad studies in Public Health tick all the boxes for Penelope

02 Dec 2020 | 5 MINS

Working as a Research Fellow in Youth Suicide Prevention at the Telethon Kids Institute, Penelope Strauss is firmly entrenched in a rewarding career.

And she was able to secure her position while in the final stages of her PhD, having previously completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) and working as a part-time research assistant throughout her studies.

Originally wanting to study medicine, Penelope decided that a master’s degree in public health would encompass all her interests –medicine, mental health and human rights:

“I wanted to study medicine, but then had exposure to research and decided that I wanted to devote my life to ‘bigger picture’ issues and change, rather than one-on-one clinical work. In discussions with one of my undergraduate lecturers I realised that the MPH was a good option for me.”  

Penelope Strauss 

Penelope was living in New York when she applied to UWA to take up postgraduate study, believing UWA was the best fit for her and her career goals:

“I met so many amazing like-minded students during my master’s degree. I also felt that all of the teachers were so knowledgeable and approachable, and I felt so supported by the School of Population and Global Health throughout my MPH.”

Setting her sights on a future in research, Penelope says writing a dissertation as part of her master’s degree, and taking extra research methods units, prepared her well for continuing on to a PhD, and a career in research.

“I am passionate about the research I do, so I hope that I am able to continue building on the research that I am doing in youth suicide prevention for the rest of my career. Youth suicide is a huge issue in Australia and there is a need for robust research to determine how the high rates of youth suicide can be reduced.”

Penelope says she also enjoyed extra-curricular activities while studying, becoming President of the Population Health Postgraduate Society:

“It was great to get to know so many other students and engage the student body in both professional and social contexts.”

For those considering studying public health at UWA but are still not sure, Penelope offers the following advice:

“Think about what drives you and what you are passionate about. I believe that the MPH gives you a lot of valuable insight and would be beneficial for any health-related job role.”

“It’s important to keep trying to achieve the career you want – persistence pays off, and reach out to your networks for support.”  

Want to find out more about studying public health at university? Check out the Public Health courses on offer at UWA’s School of Population and Global Health.


At UWA you can design your own degree. Learn about our range of courses and career options at an upcoming information session being held throughout July and August 2021. Explore our sessions and register today!

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