From Gettysburg to Yale to a public health start-up

Alyssa Fox shares her story

“I think that a liberal arts education prepares you so well to work at a start-up,” said Gettysburg alum Alyssa Foxx ’13. “In start-ups, there's always so much to be done, so you have to wear many different hats. The ability to think critically and to fill any role that is needed from you— that’s something that a Gettysburg College degree really prepares you for.”

Foxx graduated from Gettysburg with degrees in anthropology and public policy, and attended Yale University as a post-grad to earn a master's degree in public health. Today, Foxx works as a product manager of reporting and data science at CipherHealth, a New York City healthcare IT start-up, focused on improving the efficiency of healthcare offerings for low-income populations.

As an ambitious undergrad, Foxx uncovered her passion for public health initiatives through the Introduction to Medical Anthropology course she took during her sophomore year at Gettysburg. The course served as a catalyst for her Mellon Grant research project aimed at understanding the experience of accessing the healthcare system within Adams County.

Alyssa Foxx at Commencement

“I started thinking about the integration of public policy and healthcare in my Medical Anthropology class,” said Foxx. “Then I really pursued that interest through the Mellon Grant research—igniting my passion for helping low-income population through the scope of healthcare.”

In her efforts to advance healthcare access to underrepresented populations, Foxx coupled her anthropological work with relevant public policy research.

“On the public policy side, my main interest was the Affordable Care Act—which I spent a lot of time learning about as a part of my public policy major, encouraged by my Capstone Professor, Bruce Larson, of the public policy department,” said Foxx. “I knew that I had an interest in healthcare—and I wanted to learn more about the challenges and barriers that inhibit populations from accessing healthcare.”

With academic interests in healthcare policies and anthropological research, Foxx looked to her Mellon Grant research mentor, Prof. Amy Dailey, for advice on how she could practically apply her passions in her life post-Gettysburg. Dailey encouraged Foxx to pursue her master's in public health, and to study at a top-level university, where Foxx could use her experience and excitement for public health to further cultivate her multidimensional research skills.

“With the encouragement of Amy Dailey, I ultimately I chose to study post-grad at Yale,” said Foxx. “While at Yale, I studied health policy in a two-year master's program, where I was able to gain some more quantitative skills to complement the skills I gained through my liberal arts education at Gettysburg.”

Alyssa Foxx- with Prof. Amy DaileyAs a Yale School of Public Health alumna herself, Dailey felt confident that Foxx would not only be accepted, but would excel in the master's program as a result of her dual degrees in anthropology and public policy and her research experience at Gettysburg.

“Public health is an interdisciplinary field that applies the natural and social sciences to public policy and real-world population health challenges,” said Dailey. “The interdisciplinary community-based research that Alyssa was able to complete at Gettysburg allowed her to acquire relevant skills and provided the applied public health context—it likely gave Alyssa a significant advantage at Yale, compared to her peers.”

After graduating from Yale, Foxx found herself gravitating towards career opportunities within healthcare IT. CipherHealth was a great fit as Foxx was able to connect her data skills garnered from Yale, as well as her research experience from Gettysburg. Now two years into her career, Foxx finds the start-up culture to be rewarding, as she is able to fully utilize the problem-solving skills learned at Gettysburg.

Alyssa Foxx “CipherHealth was such a good fit because I am able to implement my data skills and help the populations that I really enjoyed interacting with when I was doing my Mellon Grant research at Gettysburg.

“In a lot of ways, I feel like the liberal arts education at Gettysburg gave me a full perspective of looking at problems,” said Foxx. “There are going to be a lot of different perspectives in a start-up culture, and part of the challenge is bringing those perspectives together to come to the best solution—that was really reinforced for me at Gettysburg.”