UCLA program trains underrepresented college students for public health careers
Elaine Owusu will never forget the summer between her junior and senior years at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Owusu spent eight weeks in residence on the UCLA campus, where she and more than three dozen peers received an intensive introduction to the field of public health as part of the first cohort of the UCLA Public Health Scholars Training Program. The program combined education and hands-on training — in Owusu’s case, an internship assisting the director of quality improvement at St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, which provides free and low-cost care to nearly 100,000 low-income patients in Los Angeles.
“The most enjoyable part was learning what it means to be a public health professional,” said Owusu, who plans to pursue master’s degrees in public health and business administration. “The opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas with my amazing cohort, as well as with professionals from the greater Los Angeles area, left me inspired and ready to change the world.”
Owusu was among 40 undergraduate and recently graduated college students from across the nation who spent last summer learning about public health and the potential for careers within the field. The eight-week program — including two days a week of seminars, workshops, mentorship and professional development, along with three days a week working as interns at community-based public health organizations — is funded by the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health was one of five undergraduate public health scholars programs funded, with a five-year, $2.7 million grant supporting the summer scholars with stipends, housing and other expenses, including a trip to the CDC in Atlanta.
The Public Health Scholars Training Program is part of an effort to address both the pipeline and diversity issues by introducing bright and dedicated young students to the possibilities within the public health profession. The program is now accepting applications.