Mindi DePaola’s life of international travel took off when she was three weeks old on her first trip to visit her mother’s family in Taiwan. She has visited the country each year since then and has lived in Denmark, Japan, Kansas and, now, Minnesota. A self-described “global citizen,” she sees how these experiences impact her view of the world today.
“Being a global citizen isn’t just about traveling the world and benefitting from that experience. It’s also about what you can give back,” says DePaola. “It’s translating that global perspective to the local level.”
For DePaola, that means using her biology background to impact the world through policy and public health. Last summer, she interned with the Formosa Foundation, encouraging stronger relations between the U.S. and Taiwanese governments. This spring, she plans to intern with the Science and Technical Advisory Panel for the United Nations doing statistical research and helping members of the panel prepare presentations about environmental issues such as soil degradation and climate change.
“I want to more actively and directly reduce societal impacts on the environment and reduce the harmful environmental impacts on society,” says DePaola, which is one of the reasons she is attracted to public health policy. Ultimately, DePaola plans to fold her policy experience into a career in public health.
“Public health combines my three interests: biology, health and environmental science,” says DePaola. “These three fields affect so much of our daily life. The World Health Organization estimates that environmental risk factors play a role in more than 80 percent of the diseases regularly reported. People who form effective public health policies can help a lot of populations in the world, and I want to be one of those people.”