Saturday, October 31, 2015

They’re the future!

It’s the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition, but don’t let the name fool you. Students from around the globe have gathered to talk about all aspects of public health.

Student Assembly members come to the Annual Meeting with an expectation that they’ll learn, network and maybe even find a new career path. But in their time at the meeting, particularly during the Student Meeting on Saturday, they’re surprised at the breadth and depth of topics covered.

“I thought public health was one particular, place, but it’s more diverse,” said Sandra Anyanwu-Nzeribe, a student member and director of a youth violence prevention organization in the United Kingdom. She was impressed with the many prevention tools discussed during Saturday’s meeting. “I learned a lot about diversity and different policies put in place. It’s boosted my zeal to be a bit hungry (for more public health opportunities).”

Student members are eager to improve the current public health atmosphere, but they’re looking toward the future, too. Sarah Jane Smith, of Prunedale, California, said she was looking forward to the different professional opportunities afforded to students at the Annual Meeting.

“I’m looking forward to being introduced to refreshing and new ways of thinking about public health, especially as they relate to social justice, and meeting great people who challenge and inspire me,” she said.

Edith Uba, a Nigerian public health student studying in London, echoed Smith’s sentiments. “I don’t know who’s going to help me, or where I can connect next,” she said.

But the next generation of public health professionals aren’t just waiting for a connection to help them make an impact on health. At the Annual Meeting, they get the tools to become part of Generation Public Health. Jia-Sin Liu, here in Chicago from New Taipei City, Taiwan, said that in talking with other students, the group can look at different technologies and epidemiological changes that may be in place in the future. 

And Abner Tewolderberhan, a doctoral student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said the global perspective can make public health better for everyone.

“We are implementing different public health interventions. I ‘d like to know which works better,” he said, adding that when colleagues from different countries come together, they can achieve great things overall. Sounds a little bit like the Annual Meeting!

— L.W.

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