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A CRASH COURSE IN COVID-19
Patrick Sotto grew up in Guam, the youngest in a family of six, providing care to his elderly grandmother and chronically ill sister from an early age.
After a meandering path during college in California—with thoughts of training to be an orthopedic surgeon and later considering a career as a physical therapist—Sotto learned about public health and the potential to care for the community at large.
“I am committed to formalizing my understanding of the epidemiology of infectious diseases as Guam continues to grow in its capacity to detect and respond to such diseases.”
He eventually secured internships with two epidemiologists in Guam, helping one study certain exposures and their association with noncommunicable diseases, such as areca nut use and its impact on liver cancer, and helping the second investigate the potential association between Agent Orange and infant mortality. Simultaneously, he engaged in investigation and surveillance of communicable diseases such as influenza and dengue.
As the COVID-19 pandemic reached Guam, Sotto’s epidemiology work led to an opportunity that far exceeded his expectations—serving as the Medical Operations Section Chief for the Guam COVID-19 response, with oversight for managing investigations, surveillance, and laboratory operations.
Although this work was a crash course in public health, Sotto says, he lacked formal epidemiological training. The MPH program at the Bloomberg School will give him the grounding he needs to critically analyze emerging evidence while bridging decision makers with public health practitioners and the public to respond with evidence-based practices.
“My goal is to return to Guam with experience and a wealth of knowledge that will allow me to protect Guam’s community health by enhancing the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to current and emerging infectious disease threats,” he said.
BS, Kinesiology, California State University, Northridge, 2016