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Ashley Fenton

PhD, Community Health Sciences, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health

In one sentence, what is public health to you?

Public health, for me, is promoting and educating individuals from different backgrounds and communities on health behaviors and wellness to prevent illness and injury.

What inspired you to study public health?

Growing up I have always wanted to help decrease disparities among the Black community. I wanted to contribute to preventing the Black community from experiencing more health issues and find a way to better my community. Specifically, I wanted to help children, teaching them healthy behaviors and habits that they would be able to carry into adulthood and eventually teach their children. Luckily, many of my healthy behaviors were developed as a child when I played sports and my mother would feed me healthy snacks. I want to be able to help develop these same health behaviors with other children so that they are able to lead healthier happier lives.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

The most rewarding experience of my career/studies is meeting and learning about people from different backgrounds and how they got to be in public health. I have always loved to learn about others and their life experiences because they are always different.

Advice:

The one piece of advice I would give someone starting out in public health is always to try new things and network with your fellow instructors, colleagues, and classmates. Since public health is so vast, figuring out what interests you the most helps you find where you truly want to be.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

Public health should focus on racism and how it has systematically put people at a disadvantage for years. Racism, whether overt or covert, realized or not, has a great impact on health disparities and well as differences in education and job opportunity. This greatly impacts public health nationwide.

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