On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Research!America and leading public health organizations take the time to say “thank you” to our public health workforce who work tirelessly every day to protect us from disease, injury, and other health threats. This year’s theme “Why Public Health?” calls attention to the ways public health professionals work to promote and protect health and shines a light on their dedication to serving communities across the country. This year, we’re highlighting future public health leaders, MPH students, and recent MPH graduates, in this new blog series.
Hayley Hutchinson received her Master of Public Health in Health Communication from George Mason University College of Public Health. She is currently a Global Health and Women’s Empowerment Program officer at the Japan Center for International Exchange. Hayley has a background in biotechnology, specializing in virology and rare diseases. We asked Hayley some questions about why she chose public health. Here are some of her responses:
Why did you choose to study public health?
“I chose to study public health to bridge my interest and experience in science and health. It just so happened that I was one of the only people who had infectious disease experience in my program, so when the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to provide insight in my classes, which was very interesting.”
What do you think are the most pressing issues in public health today?
“I think climate change is a really big issue that will continue to negatively affect public health in disproportionate ways due to the inequities that persist. We are seeing diseases resurfacing in places that have not seen them in decades, and changes in climate have played a large part in that.”
Since graduating, how have you used your degree?
“After I graduated in 2022, I have continued working at my organization, Japan Center for International Exchange, primarily on our global health programs and honing my skills in health communications.”
Could you share any advice for anyone who wants to pursue a degree in public health? What have been some of the challenges you have experienced?
“You don’t have to pick just one thing to work on. Sometimes people feel shoehorned into just being experts in food health, community health, communications, etc., but in reality, everything is connected so you can have various interests while working in your field. Similarly, a challenge can be that there are a lot of different issues [to work on], and sometimes you want to be able to do something about everything.”
How can we inspire a younger generation to be interested in pursuing a career in public health?
“I think younger generations have a lot of empathy and are very socially conscious, so I think if we can let them know about the opportunities out there, public health is a great area where they can channel that energy into action that can help a lot of people.”