Shawn Kaura on campus in front of trees

Alumni Spotlight: Shawn Kaura '19

Shawn Kaura is a spring/summer 2019 graduate of the undergraduate Department of Public Health. Read on to learn Shawn’s tips and recommendations for getting the most out of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) program experience. 

Why did you decide to pursue public health? 

I chose to study public health at the undergraduate level for a variety of reasons. As a course of study that I simply stumbled upon when deciding what major to choose, I had really no clear conception of what I was signing up for. Reflecting on my understanding of the kind of student I knew I was in high school, I craved balance.

After reading the course descriptions for the major I knew that this major permitted the complete academic experience I yearned for. The public health program offers classes in mathematics, social sciences, statistical analysis, etc. and it all amalgams into this beautifully curated experience that, if attention was paid, an astute understanding of how to properly diagnose and treat population-level problems. As an aspiring physician, this balance in school was vital to have a complete academic undergraduate experience. I knew I was going to take countless classes in the various science disciplines and from various familial struggles, I simply understood that health stops not with the sciences.

Rather, to do a truly remarkable job treating your patients, one must look at their patient's various life circumstances and use their entire story to provide a treatment plan. Before medical school, I have decided to pursue and complete a Master’s in Public Health to have an objective understanding of population-level health before being formally introduced to the micro-level. Studying public health was a spontaneous decision rooted in a burning desire to catalyze change in this world and not knowing where my first step was. The community you will find in this program is second-to-none and my future patients and I thank Wayne State’s program and faculty for providing never-ending support amidst the process. 

What public health class or professor would you recommend taking? 

The curriculum for the public health program is much more expansive than it was when I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree as it is becoming an increasingly popular major. However, of the classes I have taken at the undergraduate level, the public health teacher I highly recommend is Eduardo Piquieras. Eduardo’s Introduction to Public Health class combines the likeness of a highly, highly challenging environment with a sense of effortless leisure as he makes difficult concepts so simple to understand.

For those BSPH students lucky enough to be admitted to the AGRADE program, I recommend Michael Fritsch’s Health Care Organization and Administration class. This class was the most immersive class I have taken during my undergraduate career. I claim this because Dr. Fritsch did not simply throw information at us, he challenged all of us students to tackle public health problems from a systematic, linear perspective. As an aspiring surgeon, extrapolating his advice from his class is vital to a key element of surgical practice: linear thinking. Thinking of all outcomes and predicting their gravity before they happen is imperative to successful practice as any type of doctor or public health leader. 

Tell us about your experience with public health-related student organizations on-campus or off-campus activities. 

My experiences in public health are vast. For the sake of both brevity and privacy, I will only disclose those most prevalent to my undergraduate course of study and will begin with those on-campus activities. On campus, I have actively participated with The W Food Pantry as a Shift Manager. At The W Food Pantry, we provide access to various food, housing and hygiene needs to those students in need of support in that way. Other public health-related activities or extracurriculars consist of being a TA for Public Health 4400: Research Methodologies. A majority of my public health activities are off-campus. I will provide a short list here: Studying International Healthcare Research and Practice at Oxford University, attaining a wildlife first responder certification at Colorado at Boulder Medical School, doing research and publishing papers in an environmental health lab and tutoring children in both math and English in various parts of Detroit. 

What would you recommend to students interested in the public health program? 

My recommendation to those who are joining the public health program is to be relaxed. A lot of you will be coming in with aspirations much like myself to become doctors, PAs, nurses, lawyers, etc. and you will always have your goals in the back of your mind slowly dictating all of your actions. My recommendation is to disallow that from hindering your studies. You should spend your time in the program immersing yourself in all it has to offer before time runs out. This is a field deeper than an abyss and to truly attain a sliver of what is expected of you, you need to truly spend ample time in every class understanding the material.

The program will offer you everything you need to become a successful public health practitioner regardless of the specific field you enter. However, to actually utilize the resources as they have been provided to you, you need not be captivated by the field you are entering and its multifaceted application process, extracurriculars you “need” to do to attain admission, etc. No, time should be spent trusting yourself, loving the process and knowing that what is meant to be will undoubtedly happen. My further recommendation is to not be scared. Many prospective students I have talked to are worried that public health is “too difficult,” “too easy,” or even “too ambiguous of a degree for viable career options.” Public health, as a major at WSU, is neither easy nor hard, it is exactly what you make it to be. The material if learned is easy. If not learned, this major is not easy. Quite simple.

Further, the degree will permit you the opportunity to work in various careers as the degree is simply as interdisciplinary as you desire it to be. Do not be scared and do not overthink the process, just simply live and enjoy the material as you are being presented with the implications the future of mankind will have to bear and are being given the option to control its/our outcome. Enjoy it. Breathe it. Sleep it.

More about Shawn Kaura: WSU students start Detroit-based fashion blog