- Maria del Sol Rodriguez Avila believes in healthcare as a human right. She came to the Fielding School from Mexico City, driven to study public health in part by her mother's battle with breast cancer.
- Rodriguez Avila served as her mother's main caregiver and advocate throughout treatment and recovery. During that process, she became all too aware of the struggles millions of people with health problems endure.
"I have lived among so many inequalities and preventable deaths in my beloved Mexico that I am compelled to take action and make a difference."
- She saw firsthand how, even in Mexico's universal health care system, many people abandon treatment because they are unable to afford medications and services.
- "Patients are commonly treated in hallways or discharged before being stabilized due to the lack of available beds," she notes. "Many must wait for weeks before being treated for an urgent need, and usually visit up to eight doctors before being referred to an adequate specialist."
- The painful experience led Rodriguez Avila to reassess her personal and professional priorities. She left behind a successful marketing career, and took a position in the patient support division of a pharmaceutical company, where she worked closely with both public and private health care organizations to improve patients' access to medications.
- After three years with the company, she had helped more than 200,000 patients get critical and life-saving drugs.
- Not content to stop there, Rodriguez Avila enrolled in the Fielding School's MPH program in Health Policy and Management to learn how policy reform can be used to improve a population's health. She is currently studying the role and influence of stakeholders in the development of public policy, and how policies can make a difference at the community, state and national levels.
- "My duty is with those who need it the most," Rodriguez Avila says. "I am committed to developing sustainable solutions that will give patients and caregivers an opportunity for more equitable and quality-driven care."