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Arnold School of Public Health

  • Tanya Ambrose

Master of public health student screens film of nonprofit she founded at APHA annual meeting

January 26, 2024 | Erin Bluvas,

Tanya Ambrose is already a public health professional. The outreach specialist for Prisma Health Midlands Healthy Start founded Scrub Life Cares in 2020 – leading the nonprofit through the pandemic. An international organization that provides menstrual products to support health hygiene, Scrub Life Cares was borne out of Ambrose’s study abroad experience while she was public health student at Georgia State University.

“While I was in Uganda, I saw that people really needed basic items to carry out their day-to-day living activities,” she says. “I told myself I would create an organization aimed at giving back to communities that lacked resources for children to go to school and be actively engaged.”

After returning to Atlanta, Ambrose looked into her own community and that of Antigua and Barbuda, where she lived until the age of 19, to assess the often-invisible gaps in basic necessities that she had discovered abroad. She learned that due to the cost of sanitary napkins, many people in her own communities struggled to afford the essentials.

I decided I would utilize my nonprofit to be a voice to end the stigma surrounding periods and to ensure that individuals had access to the food and hygiene essentials needed to survive.

Tanya Ambrose
Tanya Ambrose

In the past two years, the Scrub Life Cares team has distributed more than 5,000 menstrual products to over one hundred women. They also provide hygiene kits and back packs and launched a community-based program to educate menstruators and remove stigma related to periods and hygiene. At their annual expos, they provide interactive health education for children and adults as well as hygiene and self-care items.

This work culminated in a film, A Look into Period Poverty that was screened at the American Public health Association’s annual meeting this past fall.

“In a world where basic needs include food, water, shelter and clothing, the film challenges us to expand that list to include menstrual hygiene products and dismantle stigmas by shedding light on the hidden struggles of menstruators,” Ambrose says. “It is a call for a more inclusive society, and our goal is to break the silence, raise awareness and make menstrual health a fundamental right."

In the midst of this journey, Ambrose completed her bachelor’s degree, gained experience as a community behavioral counselor and helped fight the COVID-19 pandemic as a case investigator and call/response center representative. She also became a birth and postpartum doula. 

Inspired by her experiences working with women’s reproductive health, Ambrose began looking at graduate programs and discovered the Arnold School’s Maternal and Child Health Certificate of Graduate Study. She has since enrolled in the Master of Public Health in Health Services Policy and Management program as well.

“USC consistently stood out as a top-tier institution with a distinguished reputation in public health,” Ambrose says. “I was confident that the Arnold School's commitment to addressing pressing public health issues within a rigorous academic environment would equip me with the knowledge and skills to contribute significantly to improving maternal and child health outcomes.”

woman sorting donations
In the past two years, the Scrub Life Cares team has distributed more than 5,000 menstrual products to over one hundred women.

In addition to the academic appeal, she was drawn to the university’s warmth. Ambrose observed a strong sense of support among faculty and students and meaningful connections with the broader community. Having carefully assessed the needs of surrounding areas, she has decided to extend Scrub Life Cares’ services into the Midlands.

After graduating in 2025, Ambrose plans to use her public health degrees to drive positive changes in women’s health and reproductive issues. She intends to use lessons learned from her Arnold School programs to implement evidence-based strategies and foster community engagement to overcome challenges in these areas.

“I'm confident that the emphasis on leadership skills and practical knowledge application will empower me to contribute effectively to the evolving landscape of public health,” says Ambrose, who hosts the podcast, Tea With Tanya: Conversations about maternal health, self-development, health and wellness.

“Success often demands perseverance, and every challenge is an opportunity for growth and improvement,” Ambrose advises students considering a similar path. “The journey may not always be smooth, but every effort invested will eventually lead to success in realizing your aspirations and positively impacting the community you seek to serve. Embrace the process, and always remember your why.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.