Alumni Public Health

MPH program gives graduate the skills needed to address health disparities in Seattle 

Commencement 2023 spotlight

By Hanna Knowles

Brandon Park turned to Oregon State’s MPH program to give him the skills and knowledge to address his community’s health disparities.  

Two years later, he’s ready to return to Seattle with a Master of Public Health degree to make meaningful connections with his community in order to promote and achieve healthy outcomes. 

What inspired you to pursue Oregon State’s MPH program? 

After I completed my undergraduate degree in 2018, I was at a crossroads as to what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the health field but I didn’t know exactly what that was.  

As I worked at Seattle Children’s Hospital, I began to understand more about the importance of public health and how it is vital to create healthy outcomes for the community. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing the intersection of health with policies and the environment, it became even more clear for me — I knew I wanted to do meaningful work addressing my community’s health disparities. 

Being healthy is much more than just being physically well. It also means to be in a state of well-being.  

Through my MPH in health promotion and health behavior, I want to create ways to promote healthy living and positive behaviors that will increase health outcomes for communities.  

What are you most proud of from your time in Oregon State’s MPH program? 

In H549 (Mass Media and Health), the main project for the class was to create a media campaign that we would present to our classmates at the end of the term.  

My media campaign focused on increasing patient empowerment to remind their health care providers to wash their hands.  

My peers in the class voted my campaign to be the one they deemed the best and would hypothetically fund. I was quite proud that I was able to apply my MPH knowledge successfully and this helped solidify that a career in public health was right for me.  

Other than this, I am proud of just how much I have grown from the beginning of my MPH program to now. I have gained valuable knowledge and experiences that I will take with me to my career and I have to thank the OSU MPH program for that. 

Did you receive any scholarships or assistance during your time here? 

No. I took federal loans and worked at the OSU Basic Needs Center to help pay for my MPH program. 

What are the most memorable lessons you’ve learned as an MPH student?  

One of the most valuable lessons I learned in my MPH program is that public health impacts our everyday life. From healthy, accessible foods to the availability of hospitals and health clinics, public health impacts every facet of our lives.  

Working in public health doesn’t just mean working in health care and hospitals. It means working with the community to create a healthier community.  

What will you miss the most about the CPHHS, OSU or Corvallis? 

I will miss the wonderful relationships I have made during my MPH program.  

Two years have passed by so quickly and it was through the support of professors and peers that I was able to successfully complete my degree.  

OSU’s campus is absolutely beautiful and living in Corvallis has helped me continue to appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of nature and its importance on our own well-being. 

What’s next? What are your plans after graduation?  

I will be moving back home to Seattle, Washington to pursue a career in public health. I have begun applying for community health program coordinator roles and other related jobs at various public health institutes in the Seattle area. 

How will you improve the health of your community?  

I want to improve the health of my community by listening to people and really hearing what pertinent issues are affecting their ability to be healthy.  

I want to practice what I have learned about being a public health professional and really make meaningful connections with my community in order to promote and achieve healthy outcomes for the people I work alongside and for. 

What does health and well-being mean to you?  

Health does not just mean if you’re sick or not. It’s about being in a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.  

To me, being healthy means having a positive relationship with yourself, the people around you and the environment that you live in.  

Do you recommend a specific club? Which one and why? 

It’s not a club, but for anyone pursuing a degree in public health and human services, I would recommend working at the Basic Needs Center. I believe the work that is done at the BNC perfectly encapsulates what it means to work in public health.  

Through my position, I support the food pantry that provides healthy foods to students and the Corvallis community, assist students with SNAP applications and help students acquire free textbooks for their classes through the Textbook Lending Program.  

I have applied the knowledge I gained through my MPH and it has helped prepare me for a future career in public health.  

Do you have any advice for incoming MPH students? 

Identifying where public health is in your daily life will help you really understand how it impacts your community.  

Public health is such an interdisciplinary field and the MPH program at OSU allows you to pursue your passions and learn how public health connects with them.  

Public health works to make the world healthier, one community at a time. If that is something that resonates with you and you are passionate about it, you are in the right place.