Heller, Hiatt collaborate on new public health forum

Practitioners, researchers and students to discuss trends, challenges and careers

A Brandeis student talks one-on-one with an employer about potential career paths at a previous Hiatt forum.

The president of a leading international provider of reproductive health services will be the keynote speaker at Brandeis University's inaugural Public Health Forum on Thursday, April 7.  

Daniel E. Pellegrom, for 26 years president of Pathfinder International, will speak on the organizational collaborations needed to influence global health challenges – from halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal access to education. Pathfinder International's mission is to ensure that all people have the opportunity to live a healthy reproductive life.

Co-sponsored by the Hiatt Career Center and the Office of Career Services at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, the forum will take place from 5:30 until 8 p.m. in the Napoli Room of Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. More than 100 public health practitioners, researchers and students will gather to discuss trends, challenges and careers in public health.

Following Pellegrom's talk, industry experts from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, McLean Hospital, Bowdoin Street Health Center, RTI International and other organizations will host in-depth discussions with students about the students' aspirations and potential careers in the field of public health.

"Such a forum enables students to see the bridges between theory and practice. It helps them picture themselves crossing those bridges from Brandeis to making meaningful impacts in the public health world," says Priya Nalkur-Pai, graduate career advisor for the M.A./SID, M.S., and Ph.D. programs at The Heller School.

Linda Arogundade, a master of science candidate in International Health Policy and Management at the Heller School, entered the program as a licensed physician with previous work experience in the health insurance sector, as well as at the clinical and community levels in reproductive health including HIV/AIDS prevention in developing nations.

The international policy and management program "has not only made me more poised to tackle global health issues like malaria, HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality, it has also challenged me to examine the context in which these issues exist, like poverty, gender inequality, and politics, and how they contribute to national and international health disparities," Arogundade says.

Upon completion of the program, Arogundade intends to work in the area of health policy research to contribute in the reduction of these disparities among vulnerable populations.

On the undergraduate level, Lydia Flier '11, a Health: Science, Society and Policy major, is also interested in gaining a holistic view of health.  "Health as a social justice issue, as a political flashpoint, as having cultural context, as something that permeates society in ways we don't consciously realize - that type of health is what I wanted to understand," Flier says.

Her exploration extended beyond the classroom to four diverse internship experiences at employers including the Office of Public Affairs at Harvard Medical School and the Risk Management Department at CRICO/RMF, the private insurer for Harvard Hospitals.  

Flier explains the fusion of these experiences: "While these organizations may seem unrelated on the surface, when taken together, they have helped me better understand just how dynamic and interconnected the public health field is."

The Public Health Forum will bring Brandeis' future health leaders, researchers and policymakers one step further in their own pursuits to make an impact on people, organizations and societies – as both scholars and practitioners.

"What I find exciting about this event is that with Brandeis' focus on experiential learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels, students already play a critical role in the ongoing dialogue and work being done in public health," says Cary Weir Lytle, associate director of employer relations for the Hiatt Career Center.

For more information about the forum, including a complete list of attending employers, please visit the event page.

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