María José Urrutia is the Communications Intern for the Shot@Life campaign this fall. Learn more about her in this Q&A!
What drew you to Shot@Life and the UN Foundation?
Ever since I started college, it has been a dream of mine to work at the United Nations in any capacity. The UN Foundation provides the perfect opportunity to support the UN to achieve its goals, while also becoming involved in grassroots organizing. The Shot@Life campaign combines my experience in communications and my lifelong passion for global public health – it was the perfect fit!
Where are you from, where are you in school, and what are you studying?
I grew up in San Salvador, El Salvador and moved to Houston, Texas seven years ago. I am very excited to be completing my senior year at New York University, where I study International Relations and Public Health. I’ll also be starting my Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Bioethics this fall.
Can you briefly describe your previous work, intern, or volunteer experiences?
During the school year, I serve as the co-chair for NYU’s 1831 Fund, a student-led organization that raises money for student scholarships by organizing fundraising events and connecting with alumni and major donors. Last summer, I was a research assistant at the Urban Epidemiology Lab, where I worked with a team researching data on marijuana products across all 50 states.
What excites you most about being part of the Shot@Life campaign and what are you most looking forward to this semester?
These days, vaccination and vaccine hesitancy are some of the most discussed topics, so it is exciting to be working on a global health campaign that focuses on vaccinations. The Shot@Life campaign has passionate team members who work tirelessly for vaccine equity. I am looking forward to working and learning from them, and the UN Foundation as a whole, this fall.
What do you think the biggest challenge is for vaccine advocacy?
It can be difficult to boost public support for vaccination, especially in the age of social media, where anyone can be susceptible to misinformation. We must make sure that information is accessible to everyone, no matter their background or education level.
Do you have any fun facts that our champions may not know about you?
I used to be a competitive swimmer, but had to quit because I developed a sensitivity to chlorine!