Ben Bryer

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health is the push to eliminate health disparities within the complicated melting pot of people in our country

What inspired you to study public health?  

I knew I was interested in social sciences and had had success in some hard sciences in high school, and public health was a perfect intersection between the two. I love the idea of explaining a health outcome with a sociological and psychological lens instead of a purely molecular or medical viewpoint.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

Environmental influences that strongly influence health outcomes - housing, food access, criminal records, racism, etc...

Why did you choose public health at UMD?

I stumbled upon it… and I’m glad I did!

How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career goals?

When I entered college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Every single class I took during my freshman year had the word “introduction” in the title. After spending the past two years within the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, I am confident in my passions and career goals. I have realized that my general interests apply to real-life, impactful careers. After college, I hope to gain experience within the broad field of global health and actually go into the field and apply everything that I’ve been learning in the classroom while at UMD. I already speak Hebrew, and I have a basic understanding of Hindi, but my next goal is to learn Spanish so that I can continue to interact and serve minority populations as a public health worker. Within the next 2-4 years I plan on going back to school to get my Masters in Public Health, possibly in epidemiology.

What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?

Due to the overwhelming support I received from my BCH professors and advisors, I was able to fit a semester abroad into my four year plan. I spent the spring 2018 semester in New Delhi, India on a public health themed trip. It was a transformative experience and I feel very lucky and blessed that I was able to go. While there I took Hindi classes, attended lectures on public health issues within the Indian context, lived with a host family, and indulged in the culture, food and overwhelming stimulation. The culmination of the trip was a month-long independent study project where I interviewed “cycle-rickshaw” drivers about their perceptions of their own health and well-being. These men are part of an extremely vulnerable segment within the hierarchical structure of Indian society, due to their income, caste, and other factors. My main findings were that a person would consider themselves healthy if they had a good relationship to their work, their god and their family. There are numerous subcategories, such as income, access to health services and migrant status, among others, that had large roles as well. This was my first intense research experience, and I am excited to return to College Park to conduct another IRB-approved study as part of the BCH honors program! Please reach out or stop me in the halls to ask me about my trip, my research project, or just to quiz me on my Hindi!