Alum shares her voice

Pitt Public Health alum Venise White 'walks the talk'

Pitt Public Health alum Venise White's devotion to the field was ignited by her family, particularly her grandmother, who was diabetic.  As a child, White (IDM ’97, BCHS '00) remembers packing her grandmother's wounds and ulcers, which instilled in her a desire to help others.  She also credits her grandmother with teaching her the value of doing things with excellence.  This attitude has been central to White's work, which has focused on improving health outcomes for marginalized populations.

As statewide health equity training administrator in the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Florida Department of Health, White, MPH, MPHE, has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for Florida's diverse population by increasing access to health care and addressing health disparities.

One of her key messages is the importance of finding your voice.  She encourages new public health professionals to find courageous spaces where their work can change lives.

“Public health is a political field that requires courage and passion to effect change,” says White. "It is about population health outcomes, with the population made up of people like you and me. We're individuals. We're families and communities of varied cultures, values and experiences.”  

White, also president of the Florida Public Health Association, has had several mentors and sponsors throughout her career who have helped her navigate the challenges of working in public health. She emphasizes the importance of finding a sponsor, who will not only offer advice but will also be an advocate to help you move to the next step in your career.  White's sponsors have been instrumental in helping her balance high expectations with the need for self-care.

"Someone who sponsors you will hold your hand and walk you to the next step,” says White. “They won't just tell you to apply, they'll actually write that letter of recommendation.”

White's commitment to excellence, passion for public health, and advocacy for marginalized populations make her an inspiring figure in the field. She continues to make an impact in Florida and beyond.  Her advice to future generations of public health professionals is to “never forget the face of the populations we serve.”

"Public health is not for the faint, but always remember to do what you love, love what you do, and be inspirational," she says. 

-Carlena Hill