Meet Glahnnia Rates — one of UNLV’s newest alumni with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Glahnnia extended her learning experience far beyond the classroom and got involved with many organizations that offered her real-world experience. Just some organizations she got involved with included the American Public Health Association, Nevada Public Health Association, and National Pan-Hellenic Council. She even took on the role of being president of the Public Health Student Association in 2018.
Since graduation, Rates has served in public health positions for the University of Nevada, Reno Extension office and the State of Nevada. She is now an epidemiologist for the CDC Foundation in Nevada and working her a master of health science degree in health informatics.
Her involvement with UNLV didn’t end when she graduated; she’s now dedicated to finding new ways to give back as an alumnus.
How are you staying involved with UNLV as an alumna?
It is important for me to stay involved with my graduating school, the School of Public Health, because I want to give back the knowledge and guidance that I have learned as a graduate and early career professional. I have stayed involved by serving on the School of Public Health Alumni Chapter’s executive board (2019-present), as vice president and now president. I serve as a director on the UNLV Legacy Board and as a member of the School of Public Health Undergraduate Subcommittee. I also offer mentorship to students to help them achieve their academic and professional goals.
What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome to get to where you are now?
The biggest challenge that I have overcome is self-doubt. Sometimes, we are our own worst critics, and we can often undermine our aspirations, goals, as well as dreams before we ever begin. I have learned that most people take small strides that eventually became bigger strides towards achieving their goals.
I have also learned that every achievement is worthy of personal praise, whether it is going back to school at a later time in life, getting up on time to head to work, or just getting your kids to school on time. Daily persistence is the key to success, even though you may not see the results right away.
Why did you choose UNLV?
I was interested in completing an undergraduate degree program in public health. In addition, faculty and staff in the School of Public Health were always very warm, friendly, and helpful. After attending UNLV's student orientation and learning about the numerous ways I could become involved on campus, I decided that UNLV would become my new university home.
What advice do you have (for new students) to survive their first semester?
Your first semester can be exciting and challenging. Try to review your course calendar, syllabus, and materials before class starts. It will keep you “ahead of the game” and on track. Do not be scared to ask questions to faculty — if you have a question, then chances are that other students have a similar question. Tutoring services are always available, and you can empower yourself early by creating and/or joining a study group early on.
Also, do not be too hard on yourself if you do not understand all of your course materials right away, it takes time to learn new things. Remember, everyone had to start from somewhere, and it is usually not at the finish line. Be involved, as much as you can with student organizations, it is a great way to meet and network with others. You never know where those networks may take you in your future career.
How did you benefit from the Las Vegas location?
During my time as an undergraduate student, I became involved with many on-campus organizations and community-based programs, including UNLV's Service Day, UNLV SERV, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated's Rho Pi Chapter, National Pan-Hellenic Council, NAACP, Public Health Student Association, African Student Association, S.O.D.A., Black Student Organization, and Circle K International.
Moreover, I further benefited by being given the opportunity to secure an internship with the Southern Nevada Health District, working on two concurring research projects in the Tuberculosis Treatment & Prevention Clinic and the academic affairs department. Upon graduating, I earned several academic awards and honors, such as being inducted into the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and given the Outstanding Graduate award by (former) President Marta Meana in fall 2018.
Were you mentored by a faculty member during your time at UNLV?
I was inspired by Dr. Tanviben Patel, who is a former faculty member of the School of Public Health and an academic adviser for the Public Health Student Association. She inspired and encouraged me to achieve more both academically and professionally. Hence, she and other faculty members played an integral role in my success as an undergraduate student at UNLV.
Is there anything you would like to add about learning in the midst of a pandemic?
During the pandemic, it is undoubted that there are many challenges students may encounter, both academically and personally. However, it is important to pace yourself each day, whether you are learning remotely or in the classroom. Take each day at a time, remember that each task completed is another step towards completing your short and long-term goals. Give yourself the time (even a small amount) and grace to reflect on your everyday achievements, it will help keep you more focused and optimistic, even during the most adverse times.