March 19, 2019 | 41° F

School of Public Health holds open house for prospective students


File Photo / January 2014 | The Rutgers School of Public Health, located at 683 Hoes Ln in Piscataway, hosts an “Open House” event to help students learn about career opportunities in the health field.

The people who will lead the nation in public health issues in the future were at the School of Public Health’s “Open House” yesterday, said Neal Boyd, a professor in Department of Health Education and Behavioral Science.

Prospective students talked with faculty, students and alumni about their graduate experiences yesterday at the School of Public Health atrium on Busch campus. 

Rutgers School of Public Health was founded in 1983 as the New Jersey Graduate Program in Public Health, according to the school’s website.

The School of Public Health was affiliated with the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey until 2013 and has since been incorporated into the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences school.

The School of Public Health currently holds 367 students and 130 primary and secondary faculty members. It has three campuses: New Brunswick, Newark and Stratford. 

New Brunswick is home to five departments: Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Environmental and Occupational Health, Health Education and Behavioral Science and Health Systems and Policy. 

Boyd said their mission is to educate students to be future leaders of the field and teach public health science and policies. 

“[What we do is] promoting health and preventing disease by creating programs that target populations, such as an age groups, specifically to reduce heart disease, cancer or others,” he said. 

Boyd has been conducting research on smoking cessation for women for more than 30 years. He is also passionate about the cause of promoting and ameliorating low birthrate, which he said is a pressing public health issue in many parts of the country. 

He has worked in the Mississippi Delta Region promoting this issue through nutrition and smoking cessation programs.

There are students who have joined faculty research, but a lot of students coming to the School of Public Health are already employed, Boyd said. 

“We have students who already began their career somewhere else and came here to get further education, training and skills,” he said.

Three departments — Urban Health Administration, Dental Public Health and Quantitative Methods: Epidemiology and Biostatistics — are located on Newark Campus.

Yvette Holding-Ford, the program administrator of the school at Newark campus, said there are currently 130 students and 30 faculty members in the school’s Newark campus. 

The average class size for core classes is about 40 students, she said, and 20 students for other classes. 

Holding-Ford said small campuses have some advantages. 

“[It is a] nice class size for the student because they get to have a one-to-one relationship with the faculty members they are working with,” she said. “A lot of them end up having jobs through their faculty members or doing research or work study in the lab with them.”

Some of the faculty members in Newark are on joint appointments with other Rutgers schools or departments, which is also beneficial to students, Holding-Ford said. 

For example, the majority of the faculty members in Department of Quantitative Methods are also faculty in the medical school, she said. 

“It is a really nice thing for students, which enables them to work closely with faculty in the medical school if they are interested,” she said.

The School of Public Health requires fieldwork experience for all candidates seeking Master’s of Public Health degrees, said Bianca Freda, fieldwork coordinator of New Brunswick and Stratford campus. 

Freda said fieldwork played an instrumental role in students’ entire educational experiences. 

“Students sit in the classroom learning import health issues, topics, strategies and approaches. Then we want them to go out in the real world analyzing these programs,” she said.

Fieldwork requires students to form complete research projects, beginning with designing a project, implementing it in a real-life setting and creating reports and presentations, said Teri Lassiter, assistant professor and fieldwork coordinator of Newark campus. 

Fieldwork is usually completed in one or two semesters, and students can get advice from faculty and field coordinators, Lassiter said. 

Myriam Casseus, a second-year student in the Doctorate Program of Health Education and Behavioral Science, said the best part of her experience is working at the Center for Tobacco Study on George Street. 

“Besides learning in class, I learned so much by researching on different types of tobaccos through hands-on training. … It’s an important part of my education here,” she said.

Prospective students should apply to a specific department in their admission. An admission committee evaluates applications. 

Tina Greco, program manager of Admissions and Academic Affairs, explained what the admission office looks for when evaluating applicants. 

“We take a holistic approach to our applicants, including transcripts, recommendations, working experiences, essays stating your goals and aspiration, and why we can make that happen to you,” she said.

Weini Zhang

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