I AM FPHLP 2017: George Beecham

George BeechamGeorge Beecham was part of the 2017 FPHLP cohort. George is a senior studying Biology at Amherst College, and he will be graduating in May. During his time in FPHLP, George worked as a Community Outreach Intern at the Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti, MI.

George had no previous knowledge of public health. He was interested in learning more about it, which convinced him to apply to FPHLP. When George arrived to the University of Michigan, he was surprised to see two familiar faces. He was reunited with a couple of students that attended the same high school he did; they were also accepted to FPHLP.

During the summer, George enjoyed going door to door in Sugarbrook to reach out to community members as part of his field placement. He was able to increase community awareness about the services provided at the Corner Health Center. Another special experience was volunteering at Shiloh Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan. George describes this as an eye-opening moment where he "learned the truth about many misconceptions regarding the Flint water crisis."

Working with students from all over the country was a learning opportunity for George. FPHLP members were diverse, so everyone's reason for wanting to learn about public health was different. George saw how student's passions stemmed from their personal experiences, yet he was unable to relate to everyone because there were experiences he hadn't shared with his colleagues. George challenged himself to engage on a different level—he had conversations with individuals to increase his awareness on other issues, even if they didn't pertain to his community. As a result of this experience, George learned how to be an active listener and gained confidence in openly communicating with others.

George is currently finishing his last year of college, and since FPHLP, he's joined Amherst College Public Health Collaborative. ACPHC is a student organization that focuses on public health and social justice issues prevalent in Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley.

In the future, George plans to earn a Master of Public Health degree and work with passionate experts to make an impact in underserved communities. George hopes to return to his hometown and build his own youth centers in the Austin and Englewood communities of Chicago.

George encourages anyone considering the program to use the #FPHLP hashtag on social media. This allows you to find posts shared by former participants and reach out to them if you have any questions. He also suggests being honest and authentic during the application process. "Open up about the things you would normally keep inside," George suggests. "Those are the things that make you qualified for a program like FPHLP."