How We Want to Change the World

How we want to change the world

Ask people why they go into public health, and you're likely to get some version of the phrase "I want to make a difference." But how? What combination of traits, tools, access, and skills does it take to make a dent in the world's burden of preventable suffering?

Each year hundreds of students come through our doors, brimming with ideas, eager to learn, ready to tackle problems that are messy and big. The students tell us they'll find a way—they'll secure the training and resources and connections they need to create a better world. And then they get specific. Here, members of the class of 2016 tell us how they plan to make a difference:

  • I want to change the world so that food is medicine, and prevention negates our need for treatment.
  • I want to change the world by sparking and strengthening the relationships we share within our food system, developing innovative strategies to reduce food waste, eat greener, and live sustainable, healthy lives.
  • Traditionally, people receive their education through their families and schools—but if they aren’t lucky enough to be brought up in a healthy environment, they start off life with the odds already against them. I want to find ways of using technology to reach people who otherwise do not have access to education about good life choices and habits.
  • I want to develop a way to predict and prevent the evolution of microbial antibiotic resistance.
  • I want to promote overall well-being and safety, not just disease-centered health care.
  • I want to bridge the gap between communities and health care centers to prevent communicable diseases.
  • The secret to change the world is individual change. Nothing can be done if it doesn’t start with you. Once you’re convinced change can start with yourself, group changes can be reached. I want to go into nutrition policy—specifically school lunch programs. I think how kids start eating is how they keep eating—if we don’t do something, it’ll be McDonald’s for everybody.
  • My master plan is to try to reduce the negative and harmful effects U.S. food production has on health disparity. Nothing in public health is single-faceted, so we need to understand multiple sides. In my fantasy world, no one gets sick from the food that they eat.
  • I want to change the way south Asian Americans talk to their families about sex and sexual health—topics that are taboo in our society right now.
  • My interest is in predicting people’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and cancer in the future.
  • One thing is to reduce the amount of money we spend on pharmaceuticals and medicine and government intervention.
  • What I want to do is related to the health system in China. I want to initiate online programs to help make people safe and supply health care for elders in China, because their children are just going out to work and they have little time to help their parents. The eldest have just retired and have little money, and we need to pay attention.
  • I think to change the world we should take small steps at a time and be consistent, and you will reach your goal.
  • I would like to be in some kind of position where I can influence public policy.
  • I would like for insurers and providers to provide incentives for consumers that will allow the two to make better choices on their own.
  • I want to change public restrooms so that exit doors push out, not in. The way things are now, if people don’t wash their hands, the doors are contaminated.
  • I want to inspire younger people and their parents to help shape them to make better choices—and inspire children to be the next ones to help other people.
  • In order to change things you have to have the conviction to enact non-reformist policies. The biggest challenge is actually restructuring health rather than just creating well-intentioned policies that just uphold the status quo. To really make a difference, things need to be addressed systematically and inequity needs to be addressed, particularly with regard to race, gender, orientation and class.
  • I want to make potable water safer.
  • I want everyone to be empowered to learn about their own health, to be good at evaluating health information, and to take better care of themselves because now they understand and can seek out that information.
  • My parents were born in 1958 and 1964, when there was a great famine in China—a famine that continues to resonate through everyday realities of contemporary Chinese society. Not only my parents but all survivors of their generation were exposed to malnutrition, extreme poverty, and hunger in their youth, and this group is still being affected by the long-term impact from that early experience, both physically and mentally. In such a context, how can we help this group of people face their upcoming old age? That is where I would love to dedicate my education, passion, and intelligence and to make a change in the world.
  • I want to change the tide of chronic disease.
  • I want to change what people think of as normal health—the amount of supplements they take, the number of pills, what’s normal—with the goal of creating more holistic lifestyles.

Comments from these members of the U-M SPH Class of 2016: Jack Andrzejewski, Dan Bator, Avery Caldwell, Rachel Caty, Khalil Chedid, Becca Courser, Audrey Fotouhi, Boran Gao, Nick Gould, Kristin Harden, Sona Jani, Laura Johnson, Peggy Korpela, Ujwala Kulkarni, Lucia Lee, Jennifer Lerose, Jose Monzon, Christine Priori, Sonia Robinson, Ariel Saulles, Kate Sutliffe, Bei Wang, Dongqing Wang.

How do you want to change the world? Add your ideas here: