Jessica Reno


Mental Health Epidemiologist 

New Mexico Department of Health

“I chose Rollins for its proximity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and for the diversity of experiential backgrounds among the student body. 

As a molecular biologist, I was initially interested in infectious disease, but at Rollins, I was able to easily explore other fields while learning epidemiological skills at the same time. Many of my professors were working at the CDC or had previously worked at places like the World Health Organization. In their classes, I learned the ways my public health skills could be used in fields like maternal and child health, chronic disease, and behavioral health. 

My work-study position was an assistant to an abortion surveillance epidemiologist at CDC. These discoveries and experiences opened up entire worlds of possibilities for my career. 

After graduating, I worked as an epidemiologist for an infectious disease surveillance system coordinated by the CDC in Atlanta. I felt confident in the skills I had learned at Rollins and in three years, my team developed a surveillance system for health-care-associated bacterial infections and published two peer-reviewed journal articles. 

In 2014, I moved to New Mexico and was hired as the mental health epidemiologist for the New Mexico Department of Health, a new position in this state. I am excited to be blazing a new trail in this interesting field, and I am grateful for the role that Rollins played in my career.”