Duane J. Wallace II earned both his bachelor's (Behavioral and Community Health) and master's degrees from the School of Public Health. Duane is now a project director at Shattuck & Associates, Inc., where he provides public health evaluation services to federal, state, local and grassroots social service agencies and organizations. He is also a doctoral candidate and adjust professor at Morgan State University.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public health is the art and science of designing and supporting healthy and non-discriminant policy and environments and promoting healthy behaviors for all people.
What inspired you to study public health?
When I came to UMD in 2008, I had no idea what I wanted to study or major in. I knew that I wanted to be a ‘Doctor’ (at the time the only doctors I knew about were medical doctors and dentists), so I chose Public Health’ as my major. I had zero idea what public health was. As a public health major, one of the general prerequisites was a course titled ‘Controlling Stress and Tension’. This class made me fall in love with public health. Learning how external factors and stimuli can physiologically manifest in your body was mind-blowing and exceptionally fascinating to me. I was sold!
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
The biggest challenge that public health should be focusing on is introspective. Public health and public health professionals need to comprehensively learn about systemic racism and discrimination and how it’s been embedded in all U.S. institutions. This discrimination negatively impacts policy, environment and even behaviors of marginalized populations and needs to explicitly be addressed in order to eliminate it.
Why did you choose public health at UMD for your undergraduate and master's degrees?
In my route to become a doctor via public health, I learned that there were other kinds of doctors. These people are called PhDs. In order to get to that level, I needed to earn my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree, both of which I earned at the University of Maryland - School of Public Health.
How has/did your degree from UMD’s School of Public Health shape your career goals/path?
My degrees helped me tremendously. They prepared me with a strong knowledge base in theory of public health which equipped me to excel at the doctoral level, putting this theory into practice. Also, through the UMD network I met Dr. Teresa Shattuck (UMD SPH alum) and I now work for her public health program planning and evaluation firm, Shattuck & Associates.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
Dr. Kathy Sharp. Dr. Sharp is one of my favorite people in the world in general! She was my professor during one of my courses in my senior year. From this course, and our mutual like for dry humor, we built a relationship. She wrote me a key recommendation letter for the MPH program and has been my mentor ever since.
How did the MPH program and your experiences at UMD prepare you to do what you're doing now?
The MPH program, specifically the internship component gave me the practical experience that I needed to feel comfortable and competent to join the workforce and excel in academia.