Epidemiology student aims to impact the world

Epidemiology doctoral student Alnecia Rumphs grew up in Miami’s African-American community and recalls the health issues faced by both her immediate family and others around her. That reality pushed her toward a career in which she could make a difference on a societal level.

“I saw generational trends of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Acquiring these illnesses was accepted as a part of life,” Rumphs said. “My goal is to determine the distribution and determinants of such diseases in the hopes of being able to contribute to the development of programs aimed at prevention. As an epidemiologist, I have the potential to impact millions of lives around the world.”

At FIU, Rumphs connected with Professor Purnima Madhivanan, in the Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, who from Miami directs the Public Health Research Institute in her native India. The possibility of traveling to India and interacting with a population in need excited Rumphs, and she eventually spent five weeks in rural villages working on a screening program for cervical cancer – the number one killer of women in that country.

“I always dreamed of traveling across the world, but I never imagined that the moment would come so soon,” said Rumphs, who made the trip this past summer. “It was an opportunity that I simply could not pass up.”

Rumphs evaluated the program’s documentation practices, helped analyze the collected epidemiologic data and made suggestions for improving the program’s efficiency and effectiveness, as well as participated in a large screening event. The exposure was invaluable, she said.

“I was able to see the culture. I was able to have a better understanding of what strategies we should or should not use in that environment,” Rumphs said. “It was a very enriching experience.”