What is your major and what year did you/will you graduate?
I am a Behavioral and Community Health major, planning to graduate in August 2018.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
Public health is about strengthening populations by improving their health, and including everyone, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status etc., in this process.
What inspired you to study public health?
I have always had a passion for health, in particular preventative health. I also wanted to be in a profession where I was helping others and at the same time getting at the root of the problems they were facing. Since I have a variety of interests within health, I figured that studying public health was the best way to get exposure and experience in many different areas. I think public health is unique because it not only involves helping people lead healthier lives and make important behavior changes, but also tries to address the root cause of the health problems and works to change the systems within which people experience these problems.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
While there are many public health challenges that we should be focusing on, I think one of the biggest that is not often talked about is the importance of stress management. I believe the inability to manage stress contributes to many health issues, including addictions, mental health problems, and even obesity, to name a few. We are often not taught how to properly deal with our stress and anxiety, which sometimes leads us to use unhealthy coping mechanisms. These unhealthy coping mechanisms are what then lead to health issues, which eventually become public health issues. Mental health in general simply needs more attention.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I actually transferred to UMD, and one of the reasons I ultimately chose the school was because of I was able to pursue a degree in this area as an undergraduate. This is unique feature of the public health program, as not many schools offer this major on the undergraduate level. I was also interested in the focus on behavioral health in addressing public health issues.
How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career goals?
The Community Health program has allowed me to gain valuable research experience in nearly all my classes, as well as practice important public health activities, such as needs and strengths assessments and creating lesson plans. These have all given me exposure to the variety of opportunities available within public health and how this work might be accomplished. I am definitely interested in pursuing research in the future, as well as working directly with the people I serve and I think the BCH major has, through the various experiences in my classes, allowed me to learn this about myself.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
As part of the Behavioral and Community Health honors program, I have been able to create my own research project based on an area of study that I am interested in. This has been a great experience thus far, as it has given me exposure to all parts of the research process. I’ve also found it valuable to be able to further study a topic within health that I’m interested in and work with a faculty mentor in the department.