Feeling Uneasy about the Future? Spend Some Time with a U of M Student!
Reading news headlines, Facebook posts, and tweets lately can leave one with a host of concerns about the future. Everywhere you turn in the digital world you see finger pointing and handwringing from all political persuasions, as well as dire predictions on a variety of important topics. For example, Stephen Hawking recently published a small piece on the role of inequality on planetary stability. Bill Gates also recently shared his concerns about the “nightmare scenario” of a global pandemic. And the list goes on and on...
I’ve noticed the university has ramped up communications for students and employees on available campus resources for stress and anxiety. These resources are important and significant, and I am thankful they are available. I am also thankful for the opportunity to interact daily with another source of comfort, hope, and inspiration...University of Minnesota students.
Our Undergraduate Students
I’ve had the opportunity to teach at the graduate level for several years through the Public Health Institute, but I’ve always had the desire to reach students earlier in their educational journey. After spending a year developing a course concept and materials, I was given the chance to teach this past fall through the University Honors Program. “Battling the Bugs: Anthrax, Ebola, and Everyday Life” is designed to give students a glimpse into the diverse disciplines involved in infectious disease prevention and control. Content for the fall 2016 course included a review of high-visibility outbreaks from the past, fictitious scenarios, and routine public health efforts behind the scenes rarely seen by the general public.
I could not have asked for a better inaugural class. Coming with diverse backgrounds, interests, and career goals, these students devoured new information on big public health challenges with energy, compassion, and tons of new ideas. During the last class, each student received a small “public health hero” trophy [proudly displayed by two students in the photo] to signify that everyone — regardless of career path — can make a public health impact in their community, workplace, and family.
Our Graduate Students
The AHC Office of Emergency Response is fortunate to partner closely with dedicated, smart, and talented AHC graduate students. Since its creation in 2004, the University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has included thousands of health sciences students on their way to careers as nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, physicians, dentists, public health leaders and allied health professionals. This past year, we created a Student Advisory Group comprised of 2 graduate students from each of our AHC schools to help direct the MRC. These graduate students bring their expertise, ideas, energy, and passion to our program by advising on training and development activities that will meet the unique needs and interests of our student members. They also maximize student involvement in the MRC through personal connections in their schools and student organizations. They are rock stars; the commitment and leadership they demonstrate as MRC members foreshadows incredible and exciting service and contributions in their chosen professional disciplines.
The Future Seems Bright
There is no question here. When our students complete their educational journey on this campus, they will face a world of challenges on multiple fronts. But as I said at the top of this piece, having the opportunity to know just a handful of the 47,000+ students in our community has filled me with comfort, hope, and inspiration. Onward together!
Jill DeBoer, Director
Academic Health Center Office of Emergency Response
For previous Director's Update issues, please visit the Archive page.