With more than 2500 students in four undergraduate Bachelor of Science degrees, the University of Maryland School of Public Health is preparing a diverse group of students to become the next generation of health educators, scientists and researchers, worksite wellness managers, first responders, social workers, public policymakers, athletic trainers, community outreach specialists, physical therapists, and more.
[Photo: Mr. Joshua Trowell (BS, Community Health, ’16) uses the “glo germ” light to demonstrate the importance of handwashing to Indian schoolchildren]
Our four majors, Behavioral and Community Health, Family Science, Kinesiology and Public Health Science, attract the most diverse student body on the University of Maryland, College Park campus (more than 50 percent are from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups). Enrollment in SPH undergraduate programs has nearly tripled over the past decade since the university launched the School of Public Health in College Park in 2007.
The department of behavioral and community health has developed a strong network with public and private public health organizations in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC region which host its undergraduates for a unique required full-time immersion internship experience during the final semester. As the program has evolved, the department has worked to integrate opportunities for students to engage with local communities sooner and more often so that they have a strong understanding of the role of community partnerships in public health before they enter the workforce. Examples of recent placements include the National Cancer Institute – Behavioral Research Program, the NIH National Institute on Aging – Office of Communications and Public Liaison, the American Heart Association, Enterprise Science and Computing, Inc., the DC Department of Health – Healthy People 2020 Office, Adventist HealthCare and Banyan Global.
The department of family science offers its students an internship experience that provides training to help military members and their families deal with deployments, re-entry to civilian life, access to services and benefits, and related challenges. Since 2012, Family Science students have been placed with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, Fort Meade, Operation Military Kids, Operation Homefront, Operation Second Chance, Easter Seals Military and Veteran Services-Greater Washington-Baltimore Region and Serving Together-Montgomery County. Students throughout the School of Public Health have expressed an interest in supporting the health of veterans and military families, and many have gained experience working also with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
The department of kinesiology’s Bachelor of Science program serves over 1000 majors, the fifth largest on campus, with a majority of students focused on future education in allied health programs. Kinesiology brings together individuals with backgrounds in physiology, psychology, sociology, communications, history, engineering, education, and neuroscience to examine the complexity of physical activity and its role in human health.
Public health science, the newest of the bachelor’s degree programs, has grown rapidly and now enrolls more than 700 students since it launched in 2014. The program includes a strong curriculum in both basic sciences and public health courses, such as biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, health policy, and global health. The program focuses on interdisciplinary education that is essential to recognizing and addressing public health issues at the state, national and global levels.
University of Maryland students of any major who are interested in public health can experience a living-learning program offered through the university’s College Park Scholars focused on global public health. The Global Public Health (GPH) Scholars program, sponsored by the School of Public Health, offers an interdisciplinary examination of the complex connections between health, culture, economic growth and development, and environmental sustainability. First and second year College Park Scholars students who participate in the GPH program gain an understanding of the conceptual and practical foundations of community health, explore global public health challenges and consider ways to improve population health within diverse contexts.
Many of these students expand their knowledge by traveling globally with Public Health Without Borders, a student-run organization supported by the School of Public Health. This group assesses health disparities affecting disadvantaged communities around the world and creates sustainable interventions to alleviate these disparities. In partnership with the UMD Engineers without Borders chapter, PHWB students have recently travelled to Compone, Peru, Calaba Town, Sierra Leone and to India to work on projects focused on improving water sanitation and to conduct community organizing and health education activities to improve hygiene and prevent disease. Students and alumni who visited India this summer had the opportunity to engage with children and muppets which are part of Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Indian version of Sesame Street, and a program being evaluated by Behavioral and Community Health Professor Dina Borzekowski to gauge impact on children’s health and educational outcomes.