I AM FPHLP 2017: Ashley Beals

Ashley BealsPublic Health is a broad field, and Ashley found herself wondering where she saw herself within this profession. She knew she wanted to work in public health, but decided to apply to FPHLP to learn more about her passions. Ashley Beals was part of the 2017 FPHLP cohort. She is currently a senior at Eastern Michigan University, where she is majoring in Public Health and minoring in Human Biology. Last summer, Ashley interned with the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Department in Ann Arbor. Ashley organized and condensed housing complaint data, and she presented the information to the environmental health office. She also collected water samples from Washtenaw County's surrounding pools and lakes to test E. coli levels.

When Ashley began FPHLP, she thought she wanted to work as a health educator. However, she was challenged to explore other possibilities. Through her field placement, she learned about environmental health, a concentration she never thought she'd have an interest for. Her appreciation for environmental health grew stronger when she distributed water in Flint and met people directly affected by the water crisis. Ashley also recalls learning about the environmental injustice in Detroit and says that "this hit home because it was so close to home."

Beals GroupAshley's learning experience didn't just come through her field placement. The people she interacted with were just as important. Building a community with other participants was useful because they all had a different perspective to offer. Connecting with her mentors and preceptors was also beneficial. They provided insight on Ashley's strengths, and they helped her see new ways in which she could contribute to the field of public health.

After completing the program, Ashley joined the Eta Sigma Gamma Beta Delta chapter at Eastern Michigan University. Ashley has been able to collaborate with her organization to develop creative and educational events for EMU students to learn about various health topics. Ashley also became a McNair Scholars Intern, and she is currently working on a research project. Ashley is investigating the role of prescription trends in the opioid epidemic and the different factors that affect physician prescriptions. Although Ashley is still finding her niche in public health, she does see herself obtaining a Master of Public Health degree focusing on health behavior, education, and disparities. In the next few months, Ashley will begin applying to graduate programs, and she's thankful that FPHLP encouraged her to broaden her horizon and apply to out-of-state programs as well.

"What you gain from the program depends on how much you put into it," Ashley shares. She encourages students to apply to FPHLP because "it's an amazing way to learn about public health and professionalism while gaining work experience and meeting great people. Through the process, you not only learn about yourself and your interests, but you learn about other people's values, beliefs and backgrounds."