Jeannette Ban: Growing up surrounded by steel and concrete in the middle of urban Los Angeles cultivated a fondness in me for the green, living things that push their way out of cracks or grow quietly among the city rush. This appreciation for plant lifeforms led me to attend The Evergreen State College in Washington, where I studied agroecology and the political economy. Getting my hands dirty at the on-site student farm solidified my interest in the art of growing nutritious food.
Just after graduation, I moved back to Southern California to intern at a small organic farm outside of Los Angeles and eventually became their field manager. While horticultural science has always been a passion, my larger goal has been addressing the unique ways that communities living and working around farms are affected by growing practices and policy. I entered the Master's in Public Health program at USC with the hope of learning how to support the overall wellbeing of farming communities that contend with heath issues such as pesticide drift and social inequalities like lack of healthcare or overtime pay.
I chose to enroll in the GeoHealth track because I believe that linking spatial analysis to public health is a powerful way to utilize growing databases for the improvement of community health, especially in neighborhoods where socio-economic status infers difficult living realities. GIS technology is ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives and I've enjoyed learning how to navigate existing systems to sort through, analyze and present spatial data in a way that propels audiences into action. - Jeannette Ban