Keith Ellis, ‘13
“I chose the field of nursing because I whole-heartedly agree with using preventive approaches to provide underserved communities with thoughtful and holistic care.”
Keith Ellis is no stranger to working with children, especially those with special needs. During his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Ellis participated in a study at the Autism Research Center focused on measuring peer relationships amongst children with Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. After graduating in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, he spent six years as a behavioral therapist for children diagnosed with Autism/PDD. He also spent time working at summer camps that catered to campers with special needs. Ellis remembers one camper with Autism in particular that made a lasting impact on him.
“Kevin was extremely inspirational and taught me many valuable lessons,” Ellis recalls. “I worked as his therapist for almost three years, and during that time Kevin helped me realize that I had the patience, demeanor and sense of humor for this line of work.” These experiences helped to solidify his desire to pursue a career in health care and continue to work with children.
While Ellis enjoyed his time as a behavioral therapist, he wanted to function in a more clinical role. “I chose the field of nursing because I whole-heartedly agree with using preventive approaches to provide underserved communities with thoughtful and holistic care,” Ellis said.
The programs offered at Yale University School of Nursing appealed to Ellis’ multiple interests. He recognized that many other graduate schools combine their master’s in nursing and master’s in public health programs by offering “public health nursing” as a specialty nursing focus. However, the degree programs at YSN provide Ellis with the chance to pursue multiple specialties. As a dual degree student studying epidemiology of microbial diseases at the School of Public Health and pediatrics at YSN, the blended curriculum allows Ellis to pursue a career as a Pediatric Infectious Disease Nurse Practitioner. “Given these linked but distinctive disciplines, I will be uniquely suited to begin applying systems-based solutions to epidemiologic and clinical crises,” Ellis explained.
His interview weekend was a major contributing factor in his decision to attend YSN. “Current students, faculty and staff were incredibly welcoming and friendly,” Ellis recounted. “As an applicant, I met with a professor whose work I had followed. I felt honored that he devoted time to speak with me and share a little wisdom.”
In addition to pursuing a dual degree, Ellis is also currently on the steering committee for the second Annual Global Health Film Festival at Yale. “Last year we had an exciting line-up of films and speakers, and this year is sure to be even better,” Ellis said. “Global health and film are two of my passions, so I am thrilled to plan this event.”