Public Health

Rodney Dangerfield no more!

August 22, 2011

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Last week, I shared a ride to an out-of-town airport with another woman.  In sharing backseat, we talked about our work and found some common interests. She’s a lawyer. I told her how surprised I’ve been about how often we speak to the wonderful UNC lawyers. They help us practice legal prevention.

When I told her I work in public health, she was really enthusiastic about what an important, exciting field it is and mentioned friends of hers who have gotten or are getting public health degrees. She had a good idea of what people in public health do in their professions.

What a difference from my early days in public health! Then, it was parallel to my research focus on cancer. At parties, after hearing about the kind of work I did, often people would slowly move away; neither public health nor cancer were great party conversation topics. All that’s changed!

Now that supermodels are in public health, along with former presidents’ daughters and other former presidents’ nieces and many other people (I am convinced everyone has a family member in public health or thinking about going into public health.), public health no longer is the Rodney Dangerfield of careers.  Our causes may garner too few dollars, but they get respect.

Our new students, over 680 of them, are entering a world in which public health never has been more important. It’s a field in which there still are jobs, a chance to see the world or stay at home, and a chance to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Welcome to our students and new public health students all over the world!

Another sign of public health’s strength was apparent at the August 21st convocation for new students. Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Professor of Nutrition, gave the only formal talk. Environmental Sciences and Engineering student and student body president, Mary Cooper, welcomed students. We’re proud of them!

Happy Monday. Barbara

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The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.