Alyssa Kennedy

Alyssa Kennedy, MPH Class of '19


University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health Program, 2019

University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor of Arts in Health and Societies, 2017


Favorite thing about Philly: The craft beer scene


Alyssa was just 16 years old when she learned about the Affordable Care Act and became excited. Public health policy seemed like a perfect fit to her. 

 “I ultimately knew that this is what I wanted for my career, to be doing policy that is tangible and means something to everyday people,” she said. “The Affordable Care Act helped my family out. I wanted to help others in a similar situation, so that’s ultimately why I pursued an MPH.”

She’s no stranger to Penn. She spent 3.5 years earning her bachelor’s degree at the university and during her senior year, she submatriculated into the MPH Program. Her experience in undergrad was very structured and left little room for flexibility, but that isn’t what she has experienced during her graduate studies.

“You can work and gain hands on experience, while also earning your degree which I find to be so lovely,” Alyssa said. “I’ve learned more about the field of public health by actually working as well as sitting in a classroom and I think that’s really important in this kind of work.”

Alyssa is a part-time student on the Generalist track, but she also works full-time as the Ryan White Program Manager in the Infectious Disease Department at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. She has many duties, including overseeing all of the activities and clinical operations for the HIV outpatient program as well as the for the inpatient and emergency room sides.

Prior to beginning her job, she took a program evaluation course as one of her electives in the MPH Program.  At the time, she didn’t recognize how useful those skills would be. Instead, she was just going through the motions of the assignments.

“Actually having to apply them, I realized how valuable taking that course before my job was. Because now I know how to properly write a budget and a grant and all this other stuff that I need to run the program that I operate,” she said.

Upon graduating from the MPH Program in the summer of 2019, Alyssa plans to stay in her current position. Down the road, she hopes to attend law school and do more work at the intersection of public health and public interest law.

When she’s not at Penn or Jefferson, Alyssa enjoys volunteering with Prevention Point Philadelphia, performing with her sketch comedy group “Raisin Brain”, doing stand-up comedy, and boxing. 

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