Charles Chen, MPH


What inspired you to study public health?

I was inspired to study public health in order to find a way to impact people on a grander scale. This means affecting not just the individual, but also the family, community, and society. I realized that there was a whole other aspect of addressing health and wellness that doesn’t focus purely on medicine. For example, vaccination campaigns, HIV/STI awareness, and nutrition are all crucial to health.

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

If I had to choose just one experience, planning for the National Public Health Week with the Public Health Student Association and implementing all the events for each day has been the most rewarding because we are helping people to better understand the idea of public health. People were given an opportunity to have a free yoga session, learn about mental health and breast cancer awareness, as well as conduct a total body prevention assessment.

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

There are opportunities everywhere! Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to focus on, don’t be afraid to ask. Much like business, networking is a huge part of public health. I realized that people who share the same passion and ideas are extremely willing to guide you in the right direction.

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

Public health needs to find ways to minimize health disparities. There is no reason why health outcomes differ between people of different socioeconomic statuses. Something I learned was that health is a right, not a privilege. However, the way health care is in the U.S. currently makes health seem like a privilege. Everyone should have access to care.