Why did you decide to pursue a career in public health?
When I made the decision in undergrad that I was no longer interested in becoming a medical doctor, I still desired to have an impactful career in a health related field. One of my mentors suggested that I investigate public health, as she thought I would find great purpose in this work. After doing my research and discovering the many career paths I was presented, I fell in love and haven’t looked back since. Public health to me, represents the ability to make dynamic improvements in population health, especially among those who face the greatest disparities in health outcomes, and that is work that I care about deeply.
What led you to choose the Georgia State School of Public Health’s DrPH program?
Funny enough, I actually applied to be a part of GSU’s PhD in Public Health program as I thought it would help me achieve my personal and professional goals, and I had heard great things about GSU’s SPH. During the application process, fate would have it that GSU would launch the DrPH program accepting students for the fall of that year (2018). I really connected with the program offerings, and it aligned more closely with my long-term career goals than the PhD program. I requested to transfer my application to make the switch and was honored to be a part of the inaugural cohort of DrPH students.
How has the DrPH program prepared you for leadership roles in public health?
The DrPH program has prepared me for leadership roles in public health by giving me the opportunity to learn from a diverse set of public health practitioners with varied experiences. Not only in the form of the faculty at the SPH, but also from my colleagues who I matriculated the program with. Those shared experiences and learnings have prepared me to step into leadership roles, like I have done since graduating, and has prepared me to be an effective leader of diverse teams.
What advice do you have for students interested in public health?
I would advise students interested in public health to do their research on the many avenues that public health addresses. There are many more career paths than immediately meet the eye. There are opportunities in federal government, state and local government, non-profits, community-based organizations etc. Even across industries, technology sectors, finance, and even tourism industries. Do your research and don’t hesitate to reach out to experienced public health practitioners, that can share their experiences and the lessons they’ve learned.
What advice would you give to current public health students?
I would advise that current public health students lean into the post public health emergency period that we are in. The pandemic highlighted many areas of public health that need transformation to better prepare us for future threats. Taking the lessons that have been learned, exploring the new opportunities that have been presented, and finding your niche in public health will prepare you for an impactful public health career. Also, utilize not only your education and professional experience but your lived experiences and diversity to be a well-rounded practitioner. Most importantly, always remember to be a source of guidance and opportunity to future public health students and professionals.
What’s your favorite GSU SPH memory?
My favorite GSU SPH memory is being a part of the inaugural DrPH cohort, meeting all my amazing classmates who have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, many of whom have become close friends. My other favorite memory of course is being one of the first graduates of the program and providing feedback that has helped to improve the experiences for the cohorts of students that have followed.
Note: The opinions and answers provided in this response are those of myself (Samuel Clasp) and are not representative of the thoughts, policies, or opinions of any organizations that I am affiliated with, in the past, at present, or in the future.