Featured Major: Public Health

This month's featured major comes from the School of Nursing & Health Studies. They offer an undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health.
Featured Major: Public Health

Public Health is a very broad major that incorporates many other disciplines. At its core, students learn how to promote health and well-being in themselves, in their communities, and in communities around the world.

Dr. Andrew porter

What is your favorite class to teach?

I love all of my classes. In terms of subject matter, Human Sexuality in Vulnerable Populations because the content is both immediately and distally important. In terms of developing the next generation of public health professionals, the capstone thesis writing and field practicum in community health is my favorite because we get to see our students blossoming into public health peers.

What makes this major unique?

Public health blends together research, exploration, and action. Our program is deeply vested in promoting the kind of active learning and engaged civic scholarship that empowers students to be change agents. Across the major, students will be able to take their passions and actualize them through scholarship with researchers and collaborations with community partners.

What are the key characteristics you look for in a student?

I want my students to ask questions, to be passionate about changing the world, to be engaged in communities, and to take on the challenges of the world with a positive attitude. We swipe right for good writing and public speaking skills, too.

What kind of research/hands-on learning can you do with this major? 

Academia is your oyster. We have students engaged in almost every kind of health-related research. In-house, we have active research labs studying everything from human sexuality, to cannabis, to the effects of music during anesthesia — so you could say we get scientific about sex, drugs, and rock & roll (terrible joke, I apologize). More broadly, we have students engaged in science made sensible (like teaching science courses in low-income public schools), biomedical research, service trips and alternative spring breaks, and public health experiences across Miami. No matter what your passion is, we have research and experiential learning for you. 

What are the career opportunities for this major?

A public health degree opens many doors. Students have a multitude of easily accessible post-graduate opportunities, including graduate school, medical school, law school, masters in public health (MPH) programs, working for government agencies, working for a non-profit, creating your own non-profit, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or right into industry. There are almost a bewildering number of doors that open — and we get to watch our graduates work to make the world a happier, healthier place from all angles.

What excites you as a teacher about this major?

I have had the opportunity to foster the next generation of public health professionals who will change the world, make a difference, spread kindness, and help create the kind of world that promotes health, happiness, and equity for all. Thank you, students — you're the best part of my job!

Doreen Penn Gustave, BSPH21

Why did you choose this major?

I had an idea of the direction I wanted to go, but not a clear picture. I ultimately chose to major in public health because it opened my eyes to the critical role health promotion plays in the world. Understanding information on the local and national scale showed me how research, awareness, and policy impact the lives of millions of people globally. Among the topics we discussed, maternal and child health captivated my attention, and my passion for serving women and children has only grown stronger since then. That passion led me to pursue the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (ABSN) at UM as a second degree, which I am currently completing.

Did you know that you wanted to study this before you got to UM? If not, how did you discover it?

Coming to UM, I knew health care would be the route I would take, but I did not think I would end up loving public health. It wasn’t until sophomore year that I discovered that it was what I was meant to do.

What’s been your favorite class for this major?

My favorite class was Global Health. I had a fantastic professor who made learning the material enjoyable and engaged us in topics and projects that made the subject matter something we wanted to explore more.

What about this major is exciting to you?

It’s practical to everyday life and allows me to make a difference in many people’s lives. I love that I can use what I learn in the classroom or skills lab right away to help people in the community.

What are you planning to do once you have completed your studies?

After I take my state boards and enter a nurse residency program, I plan to earn master’s degrees in both nursing and public health. I envision myself leading mission trips to Haiti and worldwide, providing prenatal care, vaccines, and health education to children and pregnant women. I’ll use the knowledge gained from public health to make a difference, and my leadership experience will help me work as a team member with others who have different backgrounds or ways of thinking.

Abigail Adera

Why did you choose this major?

I wanted to learn why health care, in my opinion, is not considered a right in the United States and understand the successes and failures of our current system.

Did you know that you wanted to study this before you got to UM? If not, how did you discover it?

I decided on the public health major right before the beginning of classes in my first year! I fell in love with the major immediately. The professors practice what they preach. They are actively engaged in their work and getting grants in the subjects they are teaching. Also, the SONHS building is a total dream.

What’s been your favorite class for this major?

Intro to Health Disparities with the famous Dr. Andrew Porter. He’s a rock star.

What about this major is exciting to you?

You’re learning about impacts on individual people’s health on a societal scale by combining the micro and the macro levels of experience. You gain the skills and knowledge to address health challenges on multiple levels. 

What are you planning to do once you have completed your studies?

My dream is to go to medical school at the University of Miami and become a double ’Cane! I’d love to be involved in policy, maybe work with the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders, and possibly one day start a clinic in Ethiopia, where my dad is from.

Learn more about Public Health and other exciting opportunities at the School of Nursing and Health Studies.