[Public health] looks a lot at equity and disparity issues, thinking about inequality and things like that. That’s why we thought that this university was the perfect place to start this kind of major.”

Students can now pursue a Bachelor of Science in public health at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Heather Dillaway, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who has a doctorate in sociology, helped launch the program with other representatives from CLAS and the School of Medicine, along with the president and the provost.  

Dillaway said the B.S. in public health will be linked to the SOM’s Master of Public Health program for any students interested in combining the programs.

“It’s a field with lots of jobs available right now, and what better place to have a degree like this than Wayne State, really," she said. "There’s so many jobs in the area. [Public health] looks a lot at equity and disparity issues, thinking about inequality and things like that. That’s why we thought that this university was the perfect place to start this kind of major.”

Dillaway said all public health courses plan to begin by fall 2017. The first was offered last winter, a second was made available this summer and three more courses opened for fall 2016.

“Students won’t need to worry about catching courses on certain semesters. By 2017, every course will be listed every fall and every winter, with some in the summer,” she said.

Sophomore public health major Nourhan Hamadi said knowledge of public health is relevant in Detroit, and at WSU, students have the right resources to gain hands-on experience and make a difference. 

She said giving students the opportunity to study public health means empowering them with the ability to restructure future health strategies that will affect populations worldwide.

“It is significantly important to study the broad issues that can affect the health and prosperity of individuals, families, and populations – both now, and for in the future – in order to improve medicine for the greater good of humanity,” Hamadi said. “Public health programs help keep people alive by increasing averages like life expectancy and other positive statistical outcomes based on demographic factors.”  

Dillaway said this program is also valuable because it can cater to a wide range of students who have a variety of interests, including students who are pre-med and see this as an opportunity to look at medicine more broadly.

“For students who aren’t as sure what they want to do, but they know they’re interested in health as a topic, I think this is a really good degree because it can help people hone their interests and choose their path in the health-related realms,” she said. “Other health majors are very specific, they’ll track you for a specific career or a specific area, but this is broad on purpose.”

Dillaway said public health is not about just addressing an illness when it happens, but trying to prevent it, understand why people are sick and create healthier cities and neighborhoods.

She sees public health students doing everything from working at nonprofits, being out in the community, studying the environment, rethinking health insurance policies to researching how to improve the health of the world’s babies.

“There’s room for people who want to go out in the streets and help and intervene, room for people who want to do research or write policy and room for people in the major who are pre-med and on the path to other health careers,” Dillaway said.

Dillaway said students in the program can either opt to create a more science-based approach to public health, direct themselves towards environmental studies or focus on policymaking.

Junior Alexandra D’Abreu-Hines paired her public health major with a minor in business administration with the goal of using her degree to work for the Center for Disease Control and later run her own hospital or foundation to aid city children. 

“Public health gives opportunities to travel the world, learn about cultures and also grow as a person helping others as they touch your heart,” D’Abreu-Hines said. “I think that it is good that Wayne State is promoting my major to give more awareness of different options in life. Students can also get some insight of struggles in the city and find ways to participate with organizations to rebuild the community in our glorious city.”

For more information, visit http://clas.wayne.edu/public-health.

Contact features editor Aleanna Siacon at aleannasiacon.tse@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @AleannaSiacon. 

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