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Advancing Health and Economic Equity for Fellow Philadelphians

Headshots of student

June 29, 2021

Michael Rocchi Jr. is pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree within the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) department of Health Management and Policy as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Drexel University's LeBow College of Business. He chose to pursue this route of education to help solve intersecting health and economic inequities that are persistently prevalent in the United States and in the city of Philadelphia.

Another reason this degree was right for Rocchi is because of the practice opportunities. “I chose Dornsife because of the real, on the ground work DSPH is involved in and its commitment to improving Philadelphia and the City’s communities,” he shared.

A highlight of the program (so far) for Rocchi was completing his Applied Practical Experiences (APE) at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities housed in Dornsife. There he co-created a policy brief on why the city can benefit from divesting from law enforcement and investing in communities with Kasia Kujawski, an MPH student at DSPH. 

“Constantly increasing the police department’s funding and incarcerating Philadelphians is not assisting in the many public health crises challenging our city,” said Rocchi. “To support these efforts and decrease public health crises, such as gun violence, the municipal budget has to reflect an investment into the City’s communities. Without economic security for all Philadelphians, our city will continue to encounter these public health issues.”

All this work culminated with Rocchi testifying at a Philadelphia City Council 2022 budget hearing and sharing his findings on May 26, 2021. “This work was very rewarding. I am hopeful, with continued advocacy, to see our efforts making a bigger, long-term difference in our city,” he said.

As a lifelong Philadelphian, Rocchi is committed to helping solve public health crises in the place he calls home. “I believe Philadelphia is a great city and can be a leader in making a positive impact in advancing health and economic equity for all Philadelphians,” he shared.

In the future Rocchi aspires to work in government relations for an LGBTQ+ organization to advance equal rights and continue fighting for health and economic equity. “I hope to make a positive impact on our communities and create progressive change that is beneficial for all, especially the most marginalized amongst us,” he said.

In the fall of 2021 Rocchi was named one of Drexel's Nina Henderson Provost Scholars. The scholars program provides an opportunity to enhance leadership skills and advance key priorities of the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan.