Situated in a naturally healthy environment surrounded by luscious greenery, waterfalls and clean air – Oregon State University is poised to lead Beaver Nation in an effort to become part of the Healthiest Nation in One Generation by 2030 – a goal set forth by the American Public Health Association (APHA).
“Being a healthy generation means leading a healthy lifestyle, and to do so, you must be healthy mentally, socially and physically,” says OSU Public Health Club President Melissa Nguyen.
To ensure the university’s students, faculty and staff are doing their part to be the healthiest they can be, the College of Public Health and Human Sciences’ Public Health Club hosted a Public Health
Fair in April in conjunction with APHA’s National Public Health Week.
“People go about their days not thinking about issues out there that could affect their health, and we want them to understand that their health is in their own hands,” Melissa says. “By understanding and learning about health issues, they can reduce their chance of illness.”
Dozens stopped by to visit with campus and community public health organizations whose common goal is to ensure the health and well-being of all. And new this year, CPHHS faculty were on hand to answer questions about graduate programs in the college.
“In order to create a healthy nation, we must start somewhere,” Melissa says. “By increasing awareness and knowledge, we are contributing to a healthier nation. It’s best to start locally, and since we are part of the OSU community, it was important for us to start right here.”
Representatives from the OSU Public Health Club, CPHHS graduate programs, Human Services Resource Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Peer Health Advocates, Heartland Humane Society, Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis, the Corvallis Fire Department and more set up booths to share their expertise, offer tips and provide resources on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Many college students who are away from home for the first time are used to mom and dad taking care of their home’s fire safety, such as maintaining smoke alarms and having a safe place to live,” says Fire Prevention Officer Jim Patton, with the Corvallis Fire Department. “We may not impact every student today, but for those we did reach – we have helped them think a little bit about fire safety.”
The focus of the event was on public health issues affecting the college community – including stress, safety and maintaining a healthy body.
“We understand that being a student can be tough and stressful, and sometimes they might not be aware of different services and resources offered around campus and the community that could help them,” Melissa says. “We wanted to provide them with these resources.”
Capping off the week’s festivities, Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News, gave a public lecture on campus, congratulated Oregon’s first accredited college of public health and met with CPHHS students to respond to questions, relate his personal story on the road to public health, and talk about how students can share important public health messages.
From using social media to responding to a journalist’s call, to using emotion and avoiding jargon, Dr. Besser told students they have to make public health visible when it’s working instead of being reactionary and defensive when there’s an emergency. “It’s a public health emergency when a journalist calls you,” he said. “Someone is offering you free publicity for something you are passionate about.”
He also provided advice to students entering the field and shared the three questions he asks when considering taking on a new opportunity: Will I learn something? Will it allow me to make a positive contribution? Will I work with good people I can learn from?
“I can think of nothing more exciting than a career in public health,” he said. “To spend each day doing something interesting and that makes the world a better place is really exciting.”
Read more about the Public Health Fair in The Daily Barometer.
View the slideshow above to see the Public Health Fair in action.