This time of year, potential graduate and professional students are finalizing their plans to pursue a public health career and deciding whether our school is right for them. As they make this important decision, a few sometimes ask how I landed in public health. Essentially, public health chose me—an academic mentor thought my communication skills would be a good fit with a field that needed people with all kinds of talents. In time, public health became a career home and a passion.
The draw for me? It is the most multidisciplinary field I know and relentless in trans- forming knowledge to address complex, seemingly unsolvable problems that affect the well-being of populations and communities. That tenacity is reflected in the cover story about SPH researchers pursuing answers to four very “wicked” challenges.
The field’s breadth and diversity keep me energized. The expanse of interests, talents, and approaches required to address challenges in public health brings great opportunities to make a difference. For example, on page 2, you’ll meet an SPH student whose Hurricane Katrina relief efforts have added a new flavor to local and global fundraising. Similarly, lessons learned from the hurricane’s emergency response efforts prompted an SPH alum to craft Connecticut’s first coordinated emergency rescue program for animals. You’ll find that story on page 15.
The rich history of public health also drives my commitment. Public health pioneers and practitioners have helped shape the course of human development. On page 10, you will learn about how early leaders in cardiovascular epidemiology—some of them from our own SPH—forever changed our understanding of heart health.
And finally, I’m invigorated by the field’s cycle of renewal as a cadre of new graduates joins our alumni ranks each year. This spring, we’ll welcome some 250 into our SPH global family. I know they’ve been well equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to address tomorrow’s thorniest public health issues. I’m also confident that each one will make a significant difference in the health and vitality of communities worldwide. I can’t wait to see how their own public health stories unfold.
Yours in health,
John R. Finnegan, Jr., PhD
Assistant Vice President for Public Health
Dean and Professor