Year Graduated: 2006
Major: Master of Public Health
Job Title: Chief, Office of Border Health at The County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Services
The SDSU MPH program taught Justine Kozo valuable skills, helped her build a powerful network of public health professionals and introduced her through real-world experience to what became her lifelong passion: cross-border (US-Mexico) public health work. In 2012, she became Border Health Chief for the County of San Diego, charged with facilitating collaboration among binational health entities on a variety of topics from mental health to cancer. Daily, California and Baja California record more than 140,000 border crossings, and it is estimated that over 200,000 US citizens live in Baja California. This creates an interconnected, interdependent community with many benefits as well as shared challenges, such as what we are facing now with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While San Diego is reviewing its various indicators and metrics to possibly dial down restrictions, a few miles to our south, a major crisis is unfolding in Tijuana with a shortage of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and a lack of hospital beds for sick patients. The County of San Diego understands the urgency in supporting our Baja California neighbors. Justine’s role in the response includes facilitating regular binational communication, troubleshooting complex scenarios, sharing informational resources and responding to inquiries. Diseases do not respect borders. For us to respond effectively to COVID-19, Tijuana needs to be successful. She is fortunate to work on a team comprised of brilliant and compassionate individuals who understand these challenges, many of whom are SDSU alumni and several include classmates and professors from her SDSU MPH program.
Aztecs Making an Impact