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 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."
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."
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 email@example.com 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.
Operations Crossroads Africa
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.
Bosch Foundation Fellowship
The Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program is a distinguished, transatlantic initiative that offers 15 accomplished Americans the opportunity to complete a comprehensive, professional, development program in Germany. The Bosch Fellowship is comprised of three main components: customized work placements, professional seminars, and German language training. Bosch Fellows work as consultants in their fields of expertise at leading public or private institutions in Germany. Also, Bosch Fellows participate in professional seminars, where they travel to meet and exchange ideas with the major figures across Germany and Europe. Before their work placements and workshops, Bosch Fellows participate in up to five months of language training with both private tutors in the United States and group classes in Germany.
Emerson Hunger Fellowship
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. Each year 16 to 20 participants are selected for this eleven-month program. 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. Then they move to Washington, DC to complete the year with national organizations involved in the anti-hunger and poverty movement, including national advocacy organizations, think tanks, and federal agencies.
NIH - IRTA/CRTA
The NIH Postbac IRTA (Intramural Research Training Award) program or CRTA (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 more years performing full-time research at the NIH. Individual scientists select their postbacks and provide the funding to support them; there is not a centralized selection process. These traineeships are available only in the intramural laboratories of the NIH. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research in Bethesda, MD and the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Detroit, MI.
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.
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 Gayle Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org 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