Meet Your Mentor: Adam Paberzs

Our Mentors are professionals who support and provide guidance to students during and after the program. Two mentors are assigned to each cluster of students.

In the Meet Your Mentor series, you will learn about the individuals who dedicate their time to help FPHLP participants form professional networks and understand different perspectives of the public health field.

Meet Adam Paberzs, Research Liaison with the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) Community Engagement Program.

Adam Paberzs

FPHLP: What is your role with MICHR’s Community Engagement Program?

Adam: My role as a Research Liaison is all about supporting community-academic partnerships and connecting partners who have shared goals in addressing community health priorities. I coordinate specific funding and educational opportunities that are intended to spark new collaborative research efforts aimed at improving health and promoting health equity.

FPHLP: What advice would you give new people entering the field of public health today?

Adam: Public health movements can mobilize us to create positive change at many different levels (behavioral, institutional, cultural, etc.). If you are new to the field, think about where and how you want to affect change. Creating lasting change takes time, energy and perseverance. In times of struggle, step back to reflect and remind yourself of your larger purpose… What led you here? What motivates you? And what keeps you going? Be honest with yourself, be open to growth, and stay connected to that larger goal you are striving towards.

FPHLP: What has been your proudest moment as a mentor?

Adam: The happiest moments for me are those “light bulb moments,” when you see and hear growth happening; the light is being turned on and there is this new insight, growth and connection. Last summer, we had two amazing students that designed and led an interactive presentation for community partners to help them think about how to design research questions that matter to their community. At first, I knew it was a challenging and somewhat intimidating task, but through learning and sharing it became an enlightening experience for all involved, including me. I learn so much from the FPHLPers and experiences like this. It is their energy, enthusiasm, creativity and perspectives that make being a part of this program so fun and rewarding.

FPHLP: What is a key strength you bring to your role as a mentor? How would you advise students to utilize their own strengths to further their careers?

Adam: One strength that helps me as a mentor is practicing self-awareness. When I am working with students, I am focused not only on supporting their journey, but also reflecting on my own. I am growing and learning with them as a public health professional and as a person. It is why I like to do some of the same activities that the students are doing, like journaling and writing reflection pieces. As mentors, we have lived and learned and can be a guide for students, but there is also so much we do not know. Sometimes it is simply knowing what you do not know that can change and open up your perspective on things.

My advice to students is to embrace both your strengths and your weaknesses. It is definitely important to know your strengths and be able to articulate the unique skills and talents you bring to the table, especially when you are actively seeking new education or employment opportunities. It is equally important to know where you lack knowledge and skills and in what areas you want to grow. That recognition and willingness to be open about your “weaknesses” is itself a strength and something that should be celebrated too.

FPHLP: What would you recommend to a student considering FPHLP?

Adam: FPHLP is amazing. If you are interested in public health, I cannot think of a better way to get exposure to the field and all it has to offer. The people that make this program go are incredibly kind, thoughtful, dedicated individuals that work hard to help you get the most out of the program. You will build lasting relationships with people from all over the country and the folks here at U-M. And… you will be in Michigan! There are so many important public health initiatives happening here and so much to explore. Its home for me and it is a great place to be.