By Katarina Fiorentino, B.H.S. Communication Sciences and Disorders ’21
Tasha Raymond is a public health consultant at Guidehouse, with specializations in health disparities and behavioral, social and health education sciences. She holds a Bachelor of Public Health from the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and a Master of Public Health from Emory University. Her areas of expertise include organizational development, case management, public health research, and community outreach. She is passionate about mobilizing communities and creating strategic partnerships for innovative solutions to solve our nation’s most complex public health and equity issues. Her interests align at the intersection of society and health improvement and access to care. She also serves as a volunteer coordinator for Freedom Restores Everlasting Empowerment (FREE), a non-profit organization that seeks to serve those experiencing homelessness.
Raymond shares insights about her career journey, finding specializations and areas of interest within the field of public health, and memories from her time as a student at UF.
What has your career path been like since graduating from UF?
I graduated with my master’s degree from Emory University in summer of 2020. At which point, I applied to as many jobs as possible. My first full-time public health role was directly related to the COVID-19 response. I worked as a case investigator, conducting interviews with individuals who tested positive in order to gather valuable epidemiological data and exposure information to pass along to our contact tracers. This was very interesting work at the height of the pandemic. Cases were at an all-time high and we were always busy. My role gave me an inside look as to how Georgia’s Department of Public Health (GDPH) operated when it came to COVID-19, which could also be translated to other state level responses. Six months into my position I was promoted to resource coordinator. This was still connected to COVID-19 but rather than speaking to individuals to garner information regarding their exposure and potential contacts, I worked to provide resources and information to individuals negatively impacted by COVID-19. I connected these individuals to resources such as rental and utility assistance, SNAP or food banks for those suffering from food insecurities. My time with GDPH was truly an invaluable experience.
In my role currently, I work as a public health consultant with Guidehouse, a leading global provider of consulting services to the public sector and commercial markets, with broad capabilities in management, technology, and risk consulting. I work as a member of the Public Health Sectors CDC Account Team to support various centers. I’ve really enjoyed this role thus far; it’s very different from what I was doing prior in COVID-19 response. With public health, you can get all the education in the world, but until you are practicing and applying what you’ve been taught, you really don’t get that great a grasp of the concepts, so I’m grateful for the experiences that I’ve had.
What is your favorite aspect of your current job?
My favorite part is that it’s ever-changing. The public health field is constantly evolving, new discoveries are being made, new frameworks are being implemented, and in this position as a consultant, things are constantly shifting. One project you might work on for a period of four months, and this project may be very different than another project you are working on for a year or two. My favorite part is the constant change. My prior role was very monotonous; at the height of COVID, everything was super exciting, things were really kicking off, and there were always shifts in CDC guidance. Now that things have slowed, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine. I don’t see that happening in my current position. Also, on that note, what I value about this position is the room for growth. I always say that public health found me, not the other way around, because it truly did. I had no idea what it was, and I had to do extensive research to really understand this might be what I’m looking for. Thankfully I did that, because like consulting, it’s just such a broad field and you can do so much. To hear that there is a space for public health within consulting is something I am excited to further explore as I continue down this career path.
How did you find your niche in the public health field and what inspired those areas of interest or specialty for you?
A number of my areas of interest are due to personal experience, whether that be through internship or lived experiences. I am a first-generation college student born to parents who immigrated here from Haiti, so health disparities have always been prevalent in the communities that I am a part of. Homelessness has always been a big issue in Florida, where I currently reside in Atlanta, Georgia, and worldwide. During my time in Atlanta, I’ve partnered with a non-profit organization, Freedom Restores Everlasting Empowerment (FREE), that seeks to serve those experiencing homelessness by providing food, toiletries, and doing community outreach. For example, in the wintertime we provide blankets and socks, and around school time, we provide backpacks, school supplies, and things of that sort. I currently serve as the volunteer coordinator for the organization, helping to set up our volunteer work streams for our larger events that we host quarterly. Each area of interest came through personal experience or lived experiences, and as I progressed through my education, I noticed common themes or topics that I gravitated towards.
Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
That’s a question I always struggle with. First and foremost, I want to be in a position where I can mentor and bring other women of color, other minorities, into this space. I want to provide more guidance and education about what public health is, and how you can get your foot in the door. I didn’t have that mentorship going in, and it was very hard to find individuals to provide information, like ‘how did you get to this point’ or ‘how did you decide on public health.’ I think giving access to this information is one of the biggest things I see myself doing. Also, I would like to see myself in a space where I’m continually growing. I never want to reach a point where I say, ‘this is it.’ Like I said, public health in every aspect is consistently evolving. I hope to have evolved further in my career, in my mindset, and in the skills and capabilities that I’m working on.
What is your favorite club or experience from your time at UF?
I have a handful! A pivotal experience for me while at UF was Preview. I was a Preview Staffer my freshman year going into my sophomore year, and I had a blast. Preview Staff 2016 was a really great year. It was pivotal for me in connecting to the university; having been able to meet and mentor so many students as they came into UF is something I hold near and dear to my heart. Also, my organization SISTUHS Inc. is another really great experience that I shared with my sister, who unfortunately went to FSU (but they also have a chapter there too), so we’re sisters and we’re SISTUHS. This was a fun experience just connecting with other like-minded women, women of color, and doing community service, team building and community outreach. Lastly, I tell all students who go to UF, if they can go to Gatorship, go to Gatorship. My experience was phenomenal, and I think that program did a really great job of breaking down some barriers not too many people knew existed or thought about. It really brought awareness to students, especially those who are coming from more sheltered backgrounds or areas where they don’t experience much diversity in thought or color. Those were my top three experiences at UF in terms of involvement.
What was your favorite place in Gainesville?
One of my favorite places had to be Paynes Prairie. I’m not a huge outdoorsy person, but I love the stars. Paynes Prairie was far enough away from everything where there wasn’t too much light, and you could really see the stars at night. I remember a couple of evenings just going out there, watching the sunset, staying a little longer and watching the stars twinkle in the sky. If I needed somewhere to just calm down, relax, or re-center myself, that was always my first choice.