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Well+Being Editor, The Washington Post - Meet Tara Parker-Pope

January 20, 2023

EMPH Spotlight: Tara Parker-Pope, EMPH ’24

Why did you choose to attend the Yale School of Public Health’s Executive MPH program?

I’m a longtime health journalist who spent the past two years reporting on COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic. The experience was transformative in so many ways – both professionally and personally. Covid devastated my family – my stepmother died of COVID and my father developed long COVID. The importance of accurate science journalism and clear public health communication has never been more essential. I want to build my own public health reporting skills, but also use my experience as a journalist to think about ways we can improve public health communication to build trust with the general public.

What is your current occupation?

I’m the editor of the new Well+Being desk at The Washington Post. Previously, I worked as an editor and health columnist at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

What are your favorite aspects of the Executive MPH program?

It’s been exciting to take a deeper dive into biostats and epidemiology to really learn what goes into much of the research I’ve been reporting on for years as a journalist. It’s just so exciting to me to be a student again, and I find both the professors and the other students in my cohort to be the most interesting people. It’s incredibly challenging but oddly thrilling to take an exam, write a paper, and anxiously wait for my grades. I feel 10 years younger!

How do you balance working full-time with the demands of the program?

It has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! I started a new job in a new city the same week the MPH program started. Plus, the workload during biostats summer and epidemiology fall has been ridiculous! The key for me has been to stay very organized and disciplined, but also to keep reminding myself that I’m here to learn. I’ve taken the pressure off of myself about grades and performance, and I’m trying to lean into the joy and privilege of learning and just doing the best I can.

How do you hope to apply the training and education you receive through the EMPH program to your future endeavors?

I’m already applying so much of what I’ve learned so far to my current job as a health editor and reporter. I also hope to really get to know more about my classmates – it’s such a terrific group of people. Where exactly this takes me, I can’t be sure. But I think the combination of a Yale education, the contacts I’m making in my cohort, and the knowledge I’m gaining in public health is going to make me a stronger journalist and open so many new doors.

Would you recommend the Executive MPH program to others, and why?

I already have! I’ve talked to so many people who hear I’m doing this, and they say something like, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” I tell them that there will never be a perfect time, and it will never be easy, but to do it anyway. I feel like there’s so much support here at YSPH if and when I need it. On days when I struggle, I just remind myself how fortunate I am to be here, and how great it’s going to feel on graduation day to know I have an MPH from the Yale School of Public Health!

Submitted by Sabrina Lacerda Naia dos Santos on January 20, 2023