Group: Public Health Student Forum
Category of Group: Special Interest
Year Founded: 1998
Name: Jessica K.
About the group: Public Health Student Forum was originally founded before the public health major debuted as a major at Johns Hopkins in 1998. A sophomore at the time organized an information meeting where seniors spoke to students interested in public health. The forum was essential to moving public health into the public’s and Dean’s eyes and stimulating the idea of public health studies. The original purpose was to show interest for a public health major at Hopkins. Did it do it’s job? Yes, as a major, public health has grown every year since and, rumor has it, is now the biggest major at Johns Hopkins. The current mission of Public Health Student Forum is to unite students with an interest in public health and to share this interest with others through the planning of events. The group is made up of a general board and an executive board. The executive board meets weekly and general assemblies are held for the general members bi-weekly.
Events: During the year our main events are Public Health Awareness Week and the Public Health Undergraduate Conference. Along with these two main events, we hold general assemblies that have information sessions on research opportunities, study abroad, and courses. We also hold a few speaker events throughout the year. This year we just finished our third Public Health Awareness Week. Public Health Awareness Week is a week on campus that is meant to teach the Homewood student body what public health is and that it really affects us all. This week we designated our week to Personal Health Day, Health Policy Day, Urban Health and Infectious Diseases Day, International Health Day, and Environmental Health Day. We had a major evening event on each night from an International Health Fair and Potluck Dinner that featured nine groups including many multicultural groups to speaker events on Baltimore, obesity, and healthcare. We also held a power plant tour. Our events during the day include trivia events, free drop-in workout classes, and information on volunteering.
This year we will be having our first ever (and perhaps the nation’s first) undergraduate conference in public health. We have been working closely with the undergraduate program to hold a conference in Charles Commons on April 16th. The planning for one day is a bit overwhelming at times, which includes applying for grant money, receiving and selecting students from a call for abstracts, recruiting faculty and those involved in career services to attend our event, and much much more. The goal of this is to hopefully have not only a successful conference, but one that can grow and be continued for years to come.
Why I got involved?: I’ll admit that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into freshman year. On top of that, the group has really grown and changed its mission. Joining the group has given me the chance to meet some of my closest friends. Although we all have one common interest, our executive board is diverse in terms of natural sciences and social sciences and year. Many of the people I wouldn’t be able to have met otherwise. On top of this, it’s given me a relationship with the public health advisors. The general assemblies, which often are used as time to hear about the opportunities that other students have had in public health, have taught me about the opportunities that are out there.
Can freshmen join?: Yes, yes, yes! Freshmen are invited to become general board members and attend general assemblies. However, for those committed to public health, we typically choose two freshmen in September to join our executive board as freshmen representatives based on an application. The point of freshmen representatives is to expose them to how the executive board works so that they can continue their leadership in the group later on. Freshmen representatives are responsible for general executive board tasks like assisting with public health awareness week, spreading the word about the group to other freshmen, giving the rest of the board any advice, and whatever odds and ends come our way.