I AM FPHLP 2018: Joshua St. Louis
Prior to his acceptance to FPHLP, Joshua was taking a lot of public health courses, learning theories and given an overview of the field. However, he did not have practical experience to supplement it. Joshua wanted to see how the topics he learned about in lectures played out in real life. Topics like how research studies are designed, or how nonprofit organizations mobilize and achieve what they set out to. FPHLP provided Joshua the hands on engagement he was looking for.
Joshua truly enjoyed working with his field placement preceptor, Dr. Panapasa. When given the opportunity to work with someone who is as passionate as they are brilliant, a sense of "luck" is felt from the experience. Joshua felt lucky that he were placed exactly where he needed to be, with someone who shared his desire for excellence, and is on a quest to improve the status of their community. It brought out a sense of greatness and ambition within him.
A challenge for Joshua throughout FPHLP was separating what he perceived public health to be from the reality of it. He entered the program with criticisms of the field that were widely based on his own personal perceptions and experiences. He would see a public health problem, like racial poverty, happening around me and get frustrated that no one was doing anything about it. At times, this frustration would not allow Joshua to appreciate the work being done by professionals in the field. In continuing in public health, Joshua understands that no problem will remedy immediately, but it does not take away the fact that there are many individuals dedicated to the cause. Overall, he learned that an optimistic and collaborative outlook is necessary for the progression of the field.
Since his departure from FPHLP, Joshua has continued his undergraduate studies at his home institution, as well as has taken on two new leadership positions. Joshua was elected the Director of Public Service for the University Honors Student Council where he aims to incorporate experiential learning through field trips in the City of Buffalo. Additionally, Joshua is a live-in academic assistant for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), where he serves as a resource and support system for first-year students.
Joshua plans to take his interest in public health to the next professional level. For right now, that consists of finding another internship or fellowship opportunity, and then applying to graduate school. He personally loves the idea of continuing his education and he recognizes how beneficial it will prove to be in the future.
Joshua would encourage future FPHLPers to embrace all that they don't know. He encourages the new cohort to come to FPHLP with all of their questions, concerns, curiosities and experiences. The program will embrace their uniqueness. The future FPHLPers should not worry about meeting any prerequisites or not having prior experience. If they have never done research before, then they should choose research as their field placement preference. If they don't know anything about community outreach, then try that. Joshua knows that there is immense growth in what you don't know, and the future FPHLPers should not count themselves out too soon.