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Deanna Burch Marshall

Deanna Burch Marshall, MPH '19

Deanna Marshall headshot

Current position: Research Associate at CHOP PolicyLab

Deanna Burch Marshall, MPH graduated from Dornsife School of Public Health in 2019 with a concentration in Health Management & Policy (HMP).

During her time at Dornsife, Marshall was a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) trainee, served as Vice President of the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization (MCHSO), and participated in the HRSA Title V Maternal and Child Health Internship Program.

As a Title V Intern, Marshall spent the summer between her first and second year in Burlington, Vermont working with the Vermont Department of Health Immunization Program.

What drew you to MCH?

Before going back for her master’s degree, Marshall spent 4 years teaching in public schools in low-income communities in New Orleans and Denver.

Marshall had always planned to go into public policy with a focus on education, but during her time teaching, she saw how social determinants of health and health disparities impacted her students and their ability to get a good education.

She decided to go back to school for her MPH, with the idea of focusing on children, adolescents, and intergenerational families.

How are you using your current MCH training?

Marshall is currently a Research Associate at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) PolicyLab, working on mixed-methods, applied research, and quality improvement projects.

During her second year at Dornsife, Marshall worked at PolicyLab for her master’s project, focusing on two mixed-methods projects. Her first project was a state-wide needs assessment for maternal and infant home visiting programs and her second project was an evaluation of home visiting programs for parents with substance use and opioid use disorder. After graduating from Dornsife,

Marshall’s internship with PolicyLab turned into a full-time position and she got the opportunity to continue work on both home visiting programs.

Marshall says, “In my master’s program, I tried a lot of different types of work. In addition to the Title V internship and my academic and healthcare research at CHOP, I also did an internship at a local advocacy organization. I tried a lot of different avenues to make sure I knew what I wanted to do, and I got lucky that I liked my team at PolicyLab and the work I was doing. After graduating, I sought out the work at PolicyLab and contacted my PI about a full-time position. It worked out that they had an opening, and I could move full-time onto the team and continue my work.”

Marshall’s project work is typically in partnership with city and state government agencies as well as some health systems, philanthropies, and domestic violence agencies across Philadelphia. She states that her favorite part of the job is learning from experts in the field and people that are doing direct service work.

How did your time as a MCH trainee at Dornsife influence your career?

Marshall says, “I’m grateful for my time at Dornsife. I chose Dornsife because of the program’s focus on health as a human right and integrating real world practical experience and community involvement into courses and program requirements."

"Dornsife’s MCH program opened a lot of avenues of potential career paths that I didn’t even know were options for me. The program helped me understand cross functional and interdisciplinary players in the MCH field and how everyone works together from doulas to home-visitors, to pediatricians and public health researchers, to city health departments. I got to see how MCH is a very collaborative discipline."

"When I started my master’s program, I knew I wanted to work on behalf of children and family health, but I didn’t realize I could have a role like the one I have now. I learned about my current role through Dornsife and the MCH program and throughout the program, I got the chance to apply what I learned in my MCH training to other courses, internships, and work.”

Advice to current and future MCH students?

To current and future MCH trainees, Marshall says “Try a lot of different activities and internships to get a sense of what type of work you like to do. Try out government related work, industry, advocacy, and academic research so that you have a sense of all the different MCH opportunities that are out there."

"I also recommend taking course that build skill sets that you can apply to MCH such as grant writing, GIS, and statistical analysis. Even if you don’t want to do work directly related to those topics, it’s helpful to know about these areas because you will run across them in your MCH career. Get as many skills as you can while you’re in the academic setting."

"Graduate school is a special time to focus just on learning, without other things going on. You will learn on the job too, but at school you have dedicated time to learn and gain skills quickly.”