As part of my culmination project, the Integrative Learning Experience, I had to write a reflection of my time at BUSPH. I was really proud of what I wrote, so I am going to share some of it on this blog post. I'm going to go ahead and say that it is pretty different from what MPH students normally write, but it was pretty honest!
"Growing up in the Midwest and obtaining my bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in Utah, I come from a very different background than most of my peers at the Boston University School of Public Health. Although I respect the opinions of all and I love the diversity I have seen at BU, I would not say that I am the typical BUSPH student.
Apart from my beliefs and backgrounds, this became apparent during one of my core classes when we all got to choose any public health topic and give a presentation. While my peers were presenting about complex and incredibly interesting topics such as genetic counseling or sex toys and health, I chose to present on handwashing. Compared to these various complex topics, my presentation on handwashing seemed incredibly elementary. However, I have since come to realize that it is okay to be different, and it is okay to be passionate about simple but important public health techniques. I have recognized that my professional goals do not need to be carbon copies of those around me, and that I can use my MPH to change the world in simple, unique ways.
Throughout my journey at the BUSPH, I have not only increased my passion toward public health, but I have also discovered a new passion of photography. At first, I was distressed about this as I did not think the two could mesh. However, more recently I have noticed that not only do they go together perfectly, but my photography journey has given me a new platform that I can use to change my small sliver of the world through those that I reach. The number of followers I have on my photography Instagram account grows daily, and therefore the number of people I can reach with whom to share public health themes also grows.
One theme from my time at BUSPH is that of framing. As public health professionals, we have the unique ability to frame almost any behavior or topic in a way that can benefit the health of others. In my Mass Communication and Public Health course, we delved deeper into the topic of framing and how to use that in campaigns and the media. This is incredibly relevant to my drive to use my photography account to help increase the prevention of disease and the advancement of healthy lifestyles both physically and mentally. As I do my part to frame health issues, I can use my MPH in simple and important ways to help those around me.
Another way I want to use the technique of framing is through my goal to work with hospitals and new mothers as a newborn photographer. I hope to create informative and accurate pamphlets that use framing and eye-grabbing techniques to help new mothers learn what is best for their baby and to help them lean away from “health trends” of the times that may not be the healthiest. I hope to make these pamphlets simple and easy to read. New mothers are often overwhelmed by so many new changes, and I hope that this information can be presented in a clear and direct manner while still making a difference in these new lives. By using my MPH to make small differences, I can help those with whom I interact.
The culminating event of my three-year MPH journey at Boston University is that of Covid-19. Something as huge and complex as this novel virus has brought every single person back to the basics, back to the straightforward topic that I felt embarrassed about three years ago in my class presentation, back to handwashing. This is something that is so easy. We all know we need to wash our hands. We all judge those in the bathroom that we see leaving without washing their hands. And yet? Do we always wash our hands for the full 20 seconds? Do we always wash our hands before we eat something? During a time when the CDC’s main advice is wash your hands, it proves my point perfectly: sometimes, simple is best. Sometimes we can make the biggest difference in the world by simply using our own unique circumstances to change the world in small but powerful ways.
So, what's the big deal? Why is it so important to understand that we can use our MPH degree for more than just working for the Department of Public Health or running a Non-Profit organization? Because the biggest difference we can make can happen in our own families, in our own circle of friends, and in our own lives. If we are not practicing what we preach by washing our hands for the full 20 seconds, by seeking help for mental health issues, or by doing our part to promote the political changes we think are best for the health of the public, then we are not doing our part to make a change in maybe the best way we can: small and important things that will ultimately end up changing the world, one Instagram post at a time."