Determined and Driven: My First Months at Mailman

Blog pic-KaitlinKaitlin Erickson, MPH ’16, Population and Family Health

Welcome to the second month of school my fellow first-years. Between the orientation activities, tasting the The Core’s intensity, meeting our advisers, and delving into some deep debates during our discussion sections, I’d say we’re all excited to kick off a great first semester.

Being out of school for three years, it’s been an adjustment getting back into student-mode. Before entering Mailman, I worked as a marketing manager at a healthcare communications company in Boston. It was challenging and busy, but when I left work, I left work, I was done. These days, my work comes with me wherever I go. It’s not just the volume of readings, papers, and homework; I’ve found myself living and experiencing what I’ve learned in class. My friends don’t really care why the flu vaccine is so important, but they’ll hear me preach about its necessity anyway. I’ve even had dreams of posting pictures of blackened lungs and cancer facts on the my neighbor’s door, since she who can’t take her smoking outdoors. Hm, maybe that’s not such a bad idea…

I’ve found myself immersed in the topical public health issues that have been our focus. While I find the science and the evidence immensely intriguing and exciting, I admit that it may have caused me to lose some perspective when it comes to the real reason I came to Mailman. Taking a step back and writing this post has allowed me to see the big picture. It’s not only about social theory or the economy of health alone, it’s how they interplay with each other and how we integrate them into the ways we live and work.

When I watched the speech Emma Watson delivered for the HeForShe campaign at the UN Headquarters, it immediately reminded me why I got into public health. She declared “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Her quote conveyed the same sense of responsibility that brought me here, the same tenets that I professed when taking the Public Health Oath during orientation.

To my fellow first years, I recommend checking out her speech and keeping the oath handy (mine’s currently taped to my fridge). Remember that fighting for the health of all people, working for equity and justice, and learning how to do all of this with respect and solidarity is bigger than just a long night of reading. Let’s keep that at the forefront of our minds, and stay determined and driven during the next two years.


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