At Boston University School of Public Health, we understand that our students are seeking to make a difference in the community. Here, they find ample opportunities to do so—both on campus and off.
Community volunteering forms the heart of our students’ commitment to public service. Student organizations—student-led groups that form around common concerns pertaining to public health—have made a meaningful impact on the surrounding community. In past years, our students have participated in charity walks for breast cancer and AIDS research, made handmade blankets and clothing for the homeless, coordinated flu shots for senior citizens, sponsored clothing drives, and manned outreach vans providing food and medical services to displaced persons.
The Student Senate, which holds monthly general body meetings open to all SPH students, advises the administration on a range of issues that affect the student body. During monthly Meetings with the Dean, students are able to hold discussion directly with Dean Meenan. These activities offer School administrators and faculty vital information regarding the evolving needs of students.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, while simultaneously enhancing your skill sets and network. The amount of volunteer opportunities that exists is astonishing. Whether you want to help out at a nonprofit or hospital, stay local or help out overseas, there is something out there for everyone. Volunteering can also set you apart from other job candidates and give you an upper hand in the hiring process. This section provides links to the different opportunities, both nationally and abroad, that may meet your specific interests. Volunteering is a rewarding way to make a difference—both in your life and more importantly, in the lives of others.
National Public Health Week
As part of National Public Health Week, each April students organize—with support from faculty and staff—to conduct middle- and high-school education programs in Boston-area schools. SPH students speak with high school students about how public health is relevant to their everyday lives and how they can regard themselves as active participants in creating healthy communities. It is a great opportunity for SPH students to be able to get out in the community and practice what they have been learning in the classrooms.
Together, faculty, staff, and students have raised thousands of dollars actively participating in charity walks. In the past three years, SPH teams have adorned team t-shirts and participated in the Breast Cancer Walk, the AIDS Walk, the We Care Walk to support Boston Medical Center, the Jingle Bell Run to support the Bill Rodgers Foundation for Arthritis, the Tufts 10K for Women, the Walk for Hunger, and the Jimmy Fund Walk.
Collection drives are conducted throughout the year to benefit a number of local charities. At the change of each season, a clothing drive is conducted to benefit local homeless shelters such as Rosie’s Place. A special drive is conducted each fall by the Health & Human Rights student caucus to gather cold-weather clothing for displaced refugees who find it difficult to adapt to the Boston winters. Also, food collection drives are held throughout the year for organizations that serve the homeless, such as the Pine Street Inn.
On a monthly basis, faculty, staff, and students visit Rosie’s Place, an organization that assists homeless women and their children, to help serve lunch. Students also make a semiannual visit to Community Servings to help provide hot, home-delivered meals for people ill with AIDS, their dependents, and caregivers.
South End Community Health Center Initiative
An initial collaboration with the South End Community Health Center and volunteers from SPH involved developing a business plan for an enterprise being led by the Family Services Division of the South End Community Health Center. This project provided a venue for the South End Health Center staff and community experts to deliver health services and health outreach seminars. During this time, the health center was completing construction of a new building. A neighborhood collective artisans and craftspeople were interested in leasing property in the building to open a coffee shop where they could also sell their products. Volunteers from SPH guided that group through the completion of a business plan, reviewed architectural renderings of the space, and assisted in procuring a bank commitment for a loan. The coffee shop/gift shop opened in the summer of 2000.
For further information about these and other volunteer opportunities, please contact Brendan Hoey.
In addition to skills that are gained through classes and professional development seminars, students benefit greatly from joining professional associations. These associations offer students opportunities to meet people working in public health, learn about job opportunities, understand trends in the field, and polish communication and presentation skills at annual meetings. Students are strongly encouraged to become active in any of the following organizations:
- American Public Health Association
- Massachusetts Public Health Association
- Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health
- Society for Clinical Trials
- American Statistical Association
- Women in Healthcare Management
- American Medical Association
- American Psychological Association
- Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)