An Interview with Celeste Brown, President of the Black Public Health Student Network

Why Public Health?

I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but while shadowing doctors during my last semester of college, I realized that there was a lot more to health than just following a prescription or getting a check-up. Everything from insurance policies to easy access to food makes a difference in maintaining health. While I still plan to go to medical school, I first want to learn about the context in which I will practice.

Why GW?

I found that SPHHS’s Community-Oriented Primary Care track was perfect for my interests because it creates a bridge between public health and clinical practice. I was also drawn to Washington, DC’s rich history, diverse population, great nightlife, and above all, the opportunity to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. When I pass the White House on my way to campus, it just clicks that there is no better environment to learn about public health.

What’s the best thing about GW?

My classmates. Graduate school brings together very different people from all walks and stages of life, but we all have at least one thing in common: we are GW Colonials dedicated to public health. From day one, we developed a great camaraderie, and I continue to learn from their experiences everyday. GW really is a community of learning.

What do you hope to accomplish as BPHSN president?

The theme of all my goals this year is “leaving a mark.” At our annual Minority Health Conference, for example, I hope BPHSN will leave a mark on all the speakers, students, and professionals involved. I would like to build our reputation across campus by developing programming for both undergraduate and graduate students. I also hope to collaborate with more student organizations within SPHHS through community service, social, and professional development initiatives.

Can you offer advice to new students?

Get involved! It's easy for graduate students to get off the metro, go to class, and go home, but there is so much opportunity at GW to grow as a student, network with well-connected alumni, and to become a better professional. It’s also important to get to know your professors. They are always willing to share their experiences and they are refreshing examples of how impassioned you can be about public health. If you're really here to learn, take every opportunity to do so — I promise you'll never run out.