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School of Public Health
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School of Public Health

Meet Nakaysha Gonzalez, Rutgers School of Public Health 2024 Stanley S. Bergen Medal of Excellence Awardee!

Nakaysha Gonzalez, Class of 2024, is getting the school’s highest honor: The Stanley S. Bergen Medal of Excellence. She will also be providing the student keynote address at the school of public health’s Convocation in May, where she will receiving her Master of Public Health (MPH).

We sat down with Gonzalez, to learn more about her journey.

N. Gonzalez with her mother and brother.

How did you become interested in public health?

As a first-generation Latina, I have always been driven by a desire to make a difference. Growing up in a single-parent household, I learned the value of resilience and sacrifice early on, which ignited my passion for public health, particularly in improving mental health outcomes for POC communities. It has been a fulfilling path, from my undergraduate to my MPH graduate studies to now working as a communications specialist at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

What advice do you have for current students or those looking to get an MPH?

For graduates and students embarking on their public health journey, stay connected to your roots and communities. No matter how different your life path may seem compared to others, your unique perspective and experiences can drive meaningful change. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and always remember the importance of compassion in your pursuits.

Who has made the biggest impact on your time at the Rutgers School of Public Health?

A heartfelt thank you to Claire Brown, whose support and guidance have been a cornerstone of my MPH journey. From mentoring me through developing the first mental health and wellness assessment at Rutgers School of Public Health to being a source of inspiration, Claire's impact has been immeasurable. I also extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Joye Anestis for her invaluable support in completing my practicum capstone, which also focused on mental health and wellness initiatives. Together, their guidance has not only shaped my academic experience but also contributed to our collective efforts to cultivate a healthier public health workforce.

Receiving the Stanley S. Bergen Jr. Medal of Excellence is a humbling validation of the sacrifices my family and I have made. It is a testament to the power of perseverance and a reminder that no goal is too big with unwavering determination.