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A Healthy Attitude

A Healthy AttitudePublic Health at Tufts (PHAT) coordinated with other student groups for "Healthy Week," promoting both personal and global health.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.31.08] An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so imagine what a whole week of health-conscious programming can accomplish.

Starting March 30, Public Health at Tufts is doing just that with Healthy Week, with seven days of events coordinatedwith other health groups at Tufts, such as Physicians for Human Rights, VOX, Vitality, Pre-Med Society and the Student Health Advisory Board.

The goal is to bring awareness of both personal health and global health issues to the Tufts community through speakers, movie and TV screenings and other events that are entertaining and informative. .

The week of events kicked off with a brunch that brought students and alumni together to talk about careers in health. Each day features a theme, including Public Health & Human Rights (Monday), Sexual Health Day (Tuesday), Health Career Day (Wednesday) and Nutrition & Mental Health Day (Thursday). The week is capped off by participation in the Urban Walk for Haiti in Boston on Apr. 5.

Sophomore Nadine Kesten, volunteer coordinator for PHAT, helped organize the event by reaching out to student groups and working with them to develop the themes and focuses of Healthy Week. She recently reflected on the event.

How long have you been interested in health?When did you become interested in participating in health-related subjects at Tufts?

I've been interested in health throughout high school, but it wasn't until I came to Tufts that I started to become interested in community health and public health.This year, I was looking on the student activities website, and I came across Public Health at Tufts (PHAT), and I thought it sounded really interesting.Actually, they were looking for a volunteer coordinator, so I was willing to step right up to that.

What was it like bringing such a wide variety of both student and non-student groups together in planning Healthy Week?

It was really great because all of the groups were so excited to get involved. We had originally started out with an email list of a certain number of groups, and I just kept getting more emails of people who were interested in getting involved.And instead of having one group per day, on many of the days we actually have more than one group planning activities, because everyone was so enthusiastic about it.

How did the "Kickoff Brunch" go?Who was present?

The main purpose of the Kickoff Brunch was to mingle and network. A little fewer than 40 people showed up, with different undergraduate students and some alumni.Everyone took the time to chat with one another about public health, and talk to the alumni about some of their experiences [working in the health sector]. In terms of alumni, some were going after [graduate] schools, some were working in the health field. Someone, for example, talked about her experience working in the Peace Corps, and another woman spoke about her job in health consulting.

In terms of whom you're planning to attract to the events this week, do you hope to draw students who are already interested in health? Or do you hope to attract students of varying interests?

Our event is definitely open to everyone with varying interests-and even to people who aren't interested in pursuing health as a career. Our Sexual Health Day, for example, is going have interactive demonstrations, and Public Health & Human Rights day is for people who are interested in helping a cause. You don't have to be interested in health as a field [in order to attend], we just want to promote information about it and make it really fun.

As a whole, how health-conscious-in terms of both personal and global health-do you think Tufts students are?

I think students are very conscious, especially when it comes to global health, particularly because there are so many groups [on campus] who are interested in improving health in disadvantaged countries.And whenever we have events on the Tufts campus, or in Boston, promoting health, we always have so many people who want to volunteer.I definitely think people are aware and want to help out here.

Why is this an important event in the Tufts community?

I definitely think it's an important event, because not only are we promoting health at a global level, but we are also promoting basic health on campus. Sometimes, you go to college and begin to let things go a little bit, by not always participating in the healthiest behaviors. We just want to make students more aware of the little things we can do to make their lives healthier, and also, make things healthier for other people as well.

Interview by Charlotte Steinway (A'10)

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