Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of families and communities through promotion of healthy lifestyles, research for disease, injury prevention and detection, and control of infectious diseases. Classes in biology, economics, history, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology will prepare students for this field.
Following an internship with Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion educating the public on the dangers of opiate overdoses, Meghan Ash '17 said:
"The LEAD project seamlessly shows the power of collaborative work and the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving."
Following a summer internship with UC Davis researching neurodegenerative disorders, Jack Henry Kotnik '17, said:
"In that moment, in that shiver (a visceral nervous response generated somewhere in my brain or spinal cord), I think I was finally struck by the implications of my work... A realization that this disease is a reality for some people. If I had any doubts about studying neuroscience for the rest of my life, they were surely shed with that shiver."
There are many clubs on campus that will allow you to explore your interests, stretch your skills, and make an impact in an area about which you're passionate. Contact the ASWC Club Director at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about current clubs or start your own.
ASWC Student Affairs
This committee, comprised of elected members of the ASWC senate, responds to student concerns by writing legislation that clarifies the bylaws, allocates money, or demonstrates the position of the student body to the administration.
Community Service House (The "Coop")
Residents of this interest house promote volunteerism and complete at least 30 hours of community service each semester. Up to seven students and one resident assistant can occupy the Community Service House.
Diversity Governing Board
Two students sit on the Diversity Governing Board, where they engage in frank discussions about creating a learning environment that attracts and embraces a more diverse community. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.
Enrollment Governing Board
Two students sit on the Enrollment Governing Board and work with the Office of Admission to develop ideology, improve the admission process, increase retention, and evaluate financial aid systems. These students represent their peers in meetings with the Whitman College Board of Trustees.
Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment (FACE)
FACE supports marginalized groups and advocates for a feminism that includes people of various backgrounds, genders, races, etc., rather than limiting their efforts to a particular "kind" of woman.
Global Awareness House (Glo-Ho)
Glo-Ho residents raise awareness about world issues such as hunger, population, and human rights. Up to five students and one resident assistant can live in this interest house.
A chapter of the national non-profit, GlobeMed at Whitman educates the community about issues of global public health through discussions, events, films, and a close relationship with Burma Humanitarian Mission (BHM). BHM supports grassroots education, community-based backpack medics, and refugee collaboration projects in Burma.
Health Center Advisory Committee
Three students work as a liaison between the Welty Health Center and the student body, advising the Health Center on program and policy changes and students on service availability.
Multi-Ethnic Center for Cultural Affairs (MECCA)
The MECCA houses up to four students and one resident assistant who host race discussions, international potlucks, current events forums, and other events that celebrate and promote different cultures.
Affiliated with the Counseling Center, this program fosters emotional well-being on campus by providing students with a safe space to discuss any issue with a peer.
Planned Parenthood Generation Action
This group educates the community about reproductive health and rights, providing a safe space to learn about healthy, enjoyable, and empowering ways to approach sex.
This club addresses mental health issues, educating the community and welcoming anyone who seeks information about how to help themselves or support loved ones.
Whitman Pre-Health Society
This group guides liberal arts students through joining the medical field. Activities include MCAT preparation, physician shadowing in Walla Walla, and workshops about pre-med course requirements and creating a four-year plan.
Community involvement helps students understand a broad range of issues and is becoming increasingly important in the eyes of many employers. For more ways to connect with local organizations, contact the Student Engagement Center in Reid Campus Center.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters and emergencies. They offer CPR and first aid, and get volunteers for disaster response, blood collection, and teaching classes. Those who wish to volunteer with the disaster action team can respond to house fires, immediate housing challenges, and disasters while giving necessary clothing and food to victims of disaster. Additionally, there is also office support, website management, clerical, and janitorial work.
This program pairs Whitman students with residents at the nearby Odd Fellows senior home. Volunteers visit their adopted grandparents each week to tell stories, play games, listen to music, read books, and craft together.
Blue Mountain Heart to Heart
BMH2H helps prevent new HIV and Hep C infections and hopes that they can create a better standard of life for those in our community. They need volunteers who can help with fundraisers, education and outreach, letter writing and other skills. If you volunteer here, you'll gain a lot of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, experience with people in the community afflicted, a harm reduction philosophy, and advocacy skills.
The Buddy Program connects students with intellectually or developmentally disabled adults in Walla Walla. Students meet with their community buddies twice a month for various activities, including dances, movie nights, crafts, bowling, and more.
Green Park Elementary Bilingual Program
Once a week students tutor children at Green Park Elementary School as they transition from learning only in Spanish to learning in English. Volunteers must be able to teach various subjects in Spanish, including math, reading, writing, and science.
Lincoln Health Center
The mission of the Health Center is to advance the success of students by addressing their physical, emotional, and social needs.
Providence St Mary Medical Center
This Organization Participants can do comfort rounding (interactions with patients), cashiering in the gift shop, prepping food, and working with therapy animals.
Volunteer programs and cultural exchanges designed to promote understanding of Africa and the African Diaspora based on the belief that one can truly enter another culture only by living and working in it.
Summer Community OutReach trips allow students to explore Walla Walla before classes start through work with great nonprofits and community organizations in town. The excursions are student-led, pre-orientation service trips for incoming Whitman students. These trips allow new students to participate in community service projects in Walla Walla and get to know their fellow peers through hard work and lots of fun. SCORE participants volunteer at a primary service project each day and go on field trips to non-profits to gain an understanding of the social issues that affect our community.
SOS Volunteers Club
This club works with SOS Health Services of Walla Walla, which provides quality healthcare to the uninsured. Student volunteers act as scribes for physicians during clinic hours, assist with patient data entry, and plan the annual SpeakEasy fundraising concert.
Spring Break Service Trips
Spring Break Service Trips are week-long volunteer opportunities that allow Whitman students to focus on a particular social issue outside of the Walla Walla community.
Whitman Mentor Program
Whitman students join their mentee, a local elementary schooler, at recess once a week to build a healthy relationship and have fun.
Walla Walla Community Hospice
Provide care for patients in their final stages of life and support their loved ones and caregivers. Patient care volunteers work with a diverse team (RN, Social work, Chaplain, CNA) in order to best care for patients. Volunteers must apply and go through training, but the experience is worthwhile.
Fellowships and grants afford many students the opportunity to continue their learning beyond graduation in high-impact programs. For more information, please contact the Office of Fellowships and Grants in Reid Campus Center.
AAUW Selected Professions Fellowships are awarded to women who intend to pursue or are enrolled in full-time study at accredited U.S. institutions through a designated degree program in which women's participation traditionally has been low.
The Amgen Scholars U.S. Program provides hundreds of undergraduate students with the opportunity to engage in a hands-on research experience in science and biotechnology at ten of the nation's leading educational institutions.
Chamberlain Fellowship in Women & Public Policy
Chamberlain fellows work in Washington, D.C. as general research assistants on a variety of projects and reports. Research tasks include reviewing literature; collecting, checking and analyzing data; and preparing reports and report graphics. Attendance at relevant U.S. congressional briefings, policy seminars and meetings is also an integral part of the program. Research areas include the quality of women's jobs, increasing access to higher education and non-traditional jobs for low-income women, strategies for improving child care access, affordability and quality. Placements are full-time and generally span the academic year.
RISE is a summer internship program for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada and the U.K. in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. RISE offers unique opportunities for undergraduate students to work with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany for a period of 2 to 3 months during the summer. RISE interns are matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors.
The Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, a project of the Congressional Hunger Center, is a unique leadership development opportunity for motivated individuals seeking to make a difference in the struggle to eliminate hunger and poverty. Fellows are placed for half their term of service with urban and rural community-based organizations all over the country involved in fighting hunger at the local level, such as grassroots organizing groups, food banks, economic development agencies, local advocacy groups and faith-based organizations.
Global Health Corps
Global Health Corps offers a one-year paid fellowship in which fellows make a significant, measurable contribution to a partner organization and its target population. GHC recruits partner organizations involved in healthcare access and positive health outcomes for the poor. Fellowship placements are domestic and international. Candidates apply for specific positions with one of Global Health's partner organizations for which they have relevant skills and experience. Fellows are selected jointly by GHC and the partner organization.
The Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the College of Chemical & Life Sciences, University of Maryland supports the independent research activities of talented undergraduate students under the direct supervision of a faculty investigator/mentor.
Multidisciplinary International Research Training Program
MIRT is a national program designed to encourage students to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral science research. The program provides support for undergraduate and graduate students to conduct health-related population-based research and training in developing countries. The Harvard School of Public Health MIRT Program has established links and training sites with academic institutions throughout the developing world, including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Thailand, Republic of Georgia, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile and Australia. Research opportunities are designed collaboratively with faculty to address pertinent health and health disparities.
National Geographic Young Explorers Grants Program
National Geographic's YEG program is designed for individuals ages 18 and older to pursue research, conservation, and exploration-related projects consistent with National Geographic's existing grant programs. The program offers opportunities for fieldwork in Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and other countries. Applicants are not required to have advanced degrees. However, a record of prior experience in research, conservation or exploration should be submitted as it pertains to the proposed project. Foreign nationals are invited to apply. Researchers planning to work in countries abroad should make great effort to include at least one local collaborator as part of their team.
The NIH Postbac Intramural Research Training Award program or Cancer Research Training Award provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional (medical/dental/pharmacy) school an opportunity to spend one or two years performing full-time research at the NIH.
The National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program is an accelerated, individualized doctoral training program for outstanding science students committed to careers in biomedical research.
Princeton in Africa (PiAf) is a nonprofit organization that offers yearlong fellowship opportunities with a variety of organizations working across the African continent. PiAf Fellows work in service-oriented positions in many different fields, including humanitarian aid, public health, conservation, education and social enterprise.
Fellowships for teaching and other services in Asia.
Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) is a nonprofit organization, affiliated with but not funded by Princeton University. PiLA partners with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community, government and multilateral organizations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to provide them with highly qualified recent college graduates. Fellows commit to a full-year service fellowship in development work.
The Rotary Global Grant provides support scholarships for graduate students studying abroad in one of six specific focus areas. Scholarships range from one to four years and therefore can include an entire degree program.
Switzer Fellowship Program
Switzer is a one-year fellowship given to highly talented graduate students enrolled at schools in New England and California whose studies and career goals are directed toward environmental improvement, and who clearly demonstrate leadership in their field. Fellows come from diverse social, academic and economic backgrounds and are on the leading edge of environmental and social change through efforts in environmental policy, public health, journalism, business and other fields. Fellows are committed to interdisciplinary and cross-sector work, applied results, and collaborative leadership, and may apply from any field of study.
To learn more about working on campus, visit the Student Employment page. We have general job search resources here. For employers committed to diversity and opportunities for minorities, visit workplacediversity.com, nemnet.com, and blackcollegian.com.
Industry Job Boards
Accordia Global Health - Establishing, supporting, and strengthening African-owned health institutions.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - Use this site to search job openings, fellowships, internships, volunteer positions, and overseas careers at the CDC.
National Institute of Health - The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. As well as searching for jobs with NIH, this site can provide you with job descriptions, a glossary, federal resume tips, and guides about the application process.
World Health Organization - WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. Search and apply for WHO jobs and internships through this easy-to-navigate site.
Internships and on-campus employment are excellent for accumulating work experience, developing your narrative, and broadening your network. Note that the list below is not comprehensive. Check sites such as vault.com and internships.com for more opportunities.
- Columbia University Summer Public Health Scholars Program
- GlobeMed GROW Internship
- The Walla Walla Department of Community Health doesn't have an internship program but could be a great place to coordinate a Whitman Internship Grant.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
To see what Public Health internships Whitman students have held in the past, check out the Whitman Internship Database and search "Public Health" or "Health & Medicine".
Studying away from campus is a fantastic way to learn more about the world, as well as an excellent experience upon which you'll draw throughout your academic and professional career. For more information, contact Off-Campus Studies in Memorial Building.
SIT: South Africa Community Health and Social Policy
Through the SIT: South Africa Community Health and Social Policy program, Whitman students can examine primary health care concerns from a South African perspective exploring roles of the South African state, the media, nongovernmental organizations, community structures, and traditional healers. This program focuses on topics such as health communication strategies, prenatal care, access to health care, and health education.
SIT: Chile Public Health, Traditional Medicine, & Community Empowerment
Through the SIT: Chile Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment program, Whitman students can gain insight and exposure to healthcare policies, politics, and delivery methods within a Chilean context, with a special emphasis on indigenous peoples and traditional medicines practices. Program excursions include visits to public health centers throughout Africa and surrounding valleys. Longer excursions include traveling to the rural area of Putre, the region from which the Aymara population of Chile originated, and Temuco, home to the indigenous Mapuche nation. Students produce a final Independent Study Project.
IES: London Health Practice & Policy
Through the IES: London Health Practice & Policy program, Whitman students can study current issues related to health care, public health practices and policy, and the structure and administration of health care systems. Students enroll in courses at the IES Abroad Center (located near the British Museum) and travel to Oxford once per week for a course taught at Oxford's St Catherine's College. Students travel to Kingston, Jamaica for the final 8-10 days of the semester to study health issues in a country with a developing economy.
The Philadelphia Center
Qualified Whitman students interested in a professional development experience in the historic city of Philadelphia may elect to participate in The Philadelphia Center program. Participants on this program will intern on a field of their choice for 32 hours a week. The Philadelphia Center offers more than 800 internship options to choose from with organizations such as the Environmental Protection Association, Philadelphia Zoo, arden Theater Company, and the District Attorney's office. In addition to the internship, students will enroll in a weekly City Seminar and one elective course.
The DIS Copenhagen program, students can take a variety of courses in English while experiencing immersion in Copenhagen, Denmark. This program provides students with an academically challenging environment where students can take over 200 elective course that are all taught in English. There are several cultural engagements opportunities like course-integrated study tours, DIScovery Trips, housing.
Here are some possible post-graduate degrees pursued by people in public health. Contact the SEC for additional information.
- Master in Public Health (MPH)
- Master of Arts (MA), Ph.D. in Biostatistics
- Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
- MPH or Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences
- MPH, MS or Ph.D. in Epidemiology
- MPH in Health and Social Behavior
- MPH in Health Policy and Management
Potential Job Titles
Director of Family Health
Management Policy Advisor
Public Health Director
Public Health Veterinarian
Tropical Disease Expert