I AM FPHLP 2016: Alex Kown

Alex Kown"FPHLP allowed me to discover the role that health has in every aspect of our lives." As someone who has a thirst for knowledge and understanding, Alex knew he had to apply to the program that would offer him opportunities to be involved in the community, receive mentorship, and bolster his college experience.

Alex Kown was part of the 2016 FPHLP cohort. He is completing his senior year at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, majoring in Cell Biology with a minor in Pre-Med. This past summer, Alex's field placement was with the Lenawee County Health Department where he developed marketing materials and strategy and documented a "point of dispensing" exercise to assess whether medications could be distributed in a reasonable amount of time. Alex and his partner also helped to create 26 communicable disease fact sheets that are posted on the Health Department's website. Despite initially feeling apprehensive about the site, Alex believes his time spent there was worth it. "It was amazing getting to play a part in the decision-making process. We were not treated like interns but as valuable members of the public health team."

FPHLP was a new experience for Alex, and it presented challenges that he had to overcome. He explains how he had to keep an open mind, even if he disagreed with others' opinions; had to wake up early to dive an hour to his field placement; and had to remain adaptable and learn to roll with mistakes. Alex found considerable support from his peers. "I met some of the most genuine, intelligent, passionate and all around awesome people in FPHLP. I cannot say enough great things about every person that I got to participate with. Everyone had a story and a background that added diversity to the experience. . . . My favorite memories are sitting in the student lounge and just talking and connecting with people."

Since completing the program, Alex was asked by his advisor to present to a panel of students and faculty about his experience in FPHLP. He has also been busy with a tough class schedule as he prepares for graduation. Alex still finds time, however, to serve as Student Body Vice President and in various other roles around his campus and in his church. Because of FPHLP, he realized his passion for understanding and teaching. Alex is currently working towards becoming certified to teach biology and is figuring out how he can incorporate public health.

When asked what advice he would give to someone considering FPHLP, Alex says, "Just try. Put 100% into everything FPHLP offers, and if it turns out that is not your path, you will have at least learned something valuable and can apply that to whatever field you choose." FPHLP is more than a resume builder—it is an opportunity to connect to people and a community different from your own. Alex appreciates that he was able to "step into other people's shoes and empathize all the while learning to implement public health techniques."