Emerging public health leaders from all over the world gathered in Philadelphia yesterday for the APHA Student Assembly’s National Student Meeting. The event was loaded with opportunities for students to learn from and network with longtime leaders in public health.

We asked a few attendees to step away from the day’s excitement to share their experiences with the APHA Annual Meeting Blog.

Shanil KumarShanil Kumar is an MPH candidate at California’s Fresno State University. It’s his second APHA Annual Meeting, with his first being last year’s in San Diego — much closer to home. He said he came to APHA 2019 for professional development, noting that now that he’s further into his public health education, he’s getting even more from the meeting sessions.

“I have a different take on things now that I’ve completed the first year of my program,” Kumar said.

Mary GlazerThis year’s Annual Meeting is a stone’s throw away from the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health in Philly. Naturally, the closeness made attending the National Student Meeting a no-brainer for Drexel MPH candidates Mary Glazer and Mariah Menanno.

“I didn’t have a lot of set expectations coming in,” Glazer said. “I came to listen and to learn and hear different perspectives.”

Menanno was attracted by the theme of the student meeting — “#GenerationPublicHealth: Thinking Locally, Acting Globally.” She came into public health knowing that she ultimately wants to work on climate change issues at the global level.

Mariah Menanno“As climate change continues to progress, infrastructure, water access, sanitation and hygiene — I think those are the biggest challenges in public health,” she said.

Meeting people was especially important to Amenzee Amu, an MPH candidate from A.T. Still University based in Missouri. Amu takes courses online and felt energized by being surrounded by so many emerging public health professionals.

Amenzee Amu“This conference is amazing,” she said. “It opens up your mind…I wish I could do this more than once a year.”

She said she was surprised by conversations about how race and gender bias can screate barriers to health. Amu is motivated to use her newfound public health knowledge can help her contribute to health improvement efforts back in her home country of Nigeria.

“I’m getting a different perspective on global health,” she said. “I want to see how I can help my country.”

Lauriel Morrison, an MPH candidate at Rutgers University in New Jersey, was also interested in conversations on the links between racism and health.

“It was a reality check,” she said. “You can do research on health disparities, but you also have to continue to take your pulse to make sure that your own biases and beliefs aren’t leaking into that.”

Lauriel  MorrisonMorrison is passionate about maternal and child health and is excited to get into the field. She said she’s counting down the days until her graduation in May. With her eyes on graduation, she came to the National Student Meeting for networking opportunities and was encouraged by how public health professionals talked about their work.

“Even in advanced leadership positions, they’re still passionate about the people,” she said.

For more information about APHA’s Student Assembly — the nation’s largest student-led organization focused on the development of public health students — visit booth #438 at the Public Health Expo inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Photos from top: Shanil Kumar, Mary Glazer, Mariah Menanno, Amenzee Amu and Lauriel Morrison. (Photos by Aaron Warnick)