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Episode #109 Interview with Dr. Makhabele Nolana Woolfork, Global Epidemiologist



Learn From A Global Epidemiologist


Today I interview Dr. Makhabele Nolana Woolfork, an epidemiologist of over 10 years at the local, state, federal, and global levels. She is currently a PHI/CDC Global HIV Epidemiology Fellow within the CDC’s Division of Global HIV and Tuberculosis, Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. She shares her experience, and gives tips to students and graduates on how to make advancements in their public health careers.


About Dr. Makhabele Nolana Woolfork


Dr. Makhabele Nolana Woolfork is a PHI/CDC Global HIV Epidemiology Fellow within the CDC’s Division of Global HIV and Tuberculosis/ Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. In this role, she supports the implementation, training, analysis, and data dissemination of Population-Based HIV Impact Assessments or PHIAs, multi-country surveys supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR.


Dr. Woolfork has over 10 years of public health experience in data management, surveillance, and epidemiology. At the federal level, she contracted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense. At local and state health departments, she implemented HIV incidence and surveillance activities as an epidemiologist and data manager in the Washington DC metropolitan area.


Recently, she completed her Doctor of Public Health degree and Graduate Certificate in Global Health from the University of Georgia. Dr. Woolfork received her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Epidemiology from the George Washington University in Washington, DC and her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is a proud alumnus of the rst cohort of the University of Maryland’s College Park Scholars program and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.


A Journey From Local to Global Epidemiologist


Learn about Dr. Makhabele Nolana Woolfork’s journey into public health, from becoming introduced to the public health field by a friend in church; to working with the local, state, and federal government levels to implement HIV incidence and surveillance activities as an epidemiologist and data manager in the Washington DC metropolitan area. These experiences led her to the role she has now as a PHI/CDC Global HIV Epidemiology Fellow within the CDC’s Division of Global HIV and Tuberculosis/ Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. Infectious diseases are her passion, particularly within the young adult population.



Dr. Woolfork’s Advice for Public Health Students & Graduates


Advice for students:

  • Attend conferences, and join organizations of interest to network for opportunities.

  • Summers should be used for virtual internships or other in-state opportunities.

  • Volunteer to gain experience, and showcase your work in front of potential recruiters.

  • Tally all your accomplishments as a curriculum vitae that you can tailor into a resume later.


Advice for graduates:

  • Congratulate yourself, and enjoy the accomplishment.

  • Do not wait until 3 months before graduation to look for your next opportunity.

  • Apply to internships, fellowships, and positions of interest early.

  • Create a spreadsheet of due dates, and ask other colleagues to hold you accountable.

  • Continue to attend conferences, and join organizations as an early professional.

  • Graduate with certifications (CPH, CHES, MCHES, etc.) if possible.

  • Don't be afraid to shadow someone even if the opportunity is unpaid.

  • Update your LinkedIn with your credentials and photo.

  • Don’t use a PhD to fill the “void of employment”

  • Take time between degrees and use your positions to guide you for your next move.

Get in contact with Dr. Makhabele Nolana Woolfork


Connect on LinkedIn.


Connect via email.


PHI/CDC Fellow information.


Action Steps


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