Savannah (Savi) Brenneke

Savannah (Savi) Brenneke, PhD

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Mental Health

What inspired you to study public health?

A faculty member during my senior year of undergrad introduced me to public health after I was set to pursue medical school. His courses showed me that my passion as an educator and advocate better aligned with the field of public health. Since then, I have continuously been weaving my various passions and skills to define my own path as a public health practitioner.

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

The most rewarding experience in my career has been the ability to work with adolescents and schools directly as we try to tackle difficult issues of mental health and substance use. Young people continuously inspire me with their candid perspectives on issues facing them and their peers.


Public health relies on as much creativity as it does science to get things done, so don’t be afraid to use that creativity in addressing the challenges you see in your work. This applies to your career path too; don’t feel limited by job titles or descriptions.

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

We witness time and time again that institutions and government policies have immediate and long lasting effects on our people’s health, and yet we shy away from getting involved in those very processes. So, I think the biggest challenge is moving the dial on racist policies. I would love to see more colleagues in public health be involved in the policy making process.