Brooke Farrenkopf

Brooke Farrenkopf, BSPH

Global Health, Health Disparities and Minority Health

What inspired you to study public health?

People.  I love how this field allows and encourages me to momentarily enter into the lives of such a wide variety of people.  My professors, my classmates, and the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and help have all simultaneously inspired and challenged me.  This field allows me to pair my creative and analytical skills with my passion to create a healthier world; I love that I am constantly surrounded by people with the same goals.  Public health is full of enthusiastic, proactive people with big hearts, and because of this, I am constantly motivated to accomplish more in public health.

What has been the single most rewarding experience of your career/studies so far?

One of my favorite and most rewarding public health memories was planning an on-campus panel on the Affordable Care Act that many students from a variety of disciples attended. I was thrilled to see so many of my peers take a proactive approach to their health, and I was proud of my group for being able to understand the interests of our audience to effectively create an event that had such positive outcomes. Everyone left the event more educated and with an increased interest in benefitting the nations’ health, rather than simply their own health. I was happy to share that core message of public health with my peers.

What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out in public health?

I wish someone had told me that there isn’t one correct way to go about entering public health and that I should just explore the field and gain as much exposure as possible!  My initial view of public health was far narrower than it is now, and that caused me to miss some out on some opportunities. My advice to any new student, is to go listen to lectures on topics you don’t know too much about, or apply for an internship in a field you’d like to learn more about.  Don’t limit yourself, because public health is so interconnected and essentially limitless!

What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?

I think the largest challenge to public health is that socioeconomic status far too often determines health status.  In the US, the road to reversing this has been arduous due to the lack of an overall belief that everyone deserves healthcare and that good health is not just available to only those who can afford it.  We need to focus our attention on changing these beliefs and providing better avenues—via funding, infrastructure, employment opportunities—to create sustainable, effective healthcare available to everyone.