As the U.S. House debated the Affordable Care Act recently, Clark University alumni involved in public health discussed what’s next for their profession and the cross-section of Americans they serve.
The alumni returned to campus to launch the fifth ClarkCONNECT event, this one focused on health. ClarkCONNECT matches students with alumni, faculty, parents and outside partners for career mentorship and professional networking.
In a keynote speech for the March 21 event, John Auerbach ’72, former public health commissioner for Massachusetts, provided an overview of the Affordable Care Act’s successes, including providing 20 million more Americans with health insurance. Auerbach now is president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit advocacy organization aimed at building a public health defense against a wide range of diseases.
“We’re in danger of having outbreaks like Zika and Ebola and not having the protection we need. We have children without health care,” Auerbach said. “We try not to think of this as a partisan issue; we try to explain what’s happening in clear ways. Governors and mayors are often as confused about health care as is the general public.”
Following his speech, a panel of alumni discussed their experience in the public health field and took questions from the audience. They included Dr. Dennis Dimitri ’75, clinical associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center and UMass Medical School (pictured above with Clark students); Samantha Arsenault ’15, M.A.’16, a public health policy and data analyst at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington; Anna Rosofsky ’10, M.A.’11, a doctoral candidate at Boston University School of Public Health; and Garrett Abrahamson ’07, M.B.A. ’08, a senior consultant with Public Consulting Group, which in part is involved in healthcare financing initiatives.
Dimitri encouraged students to consider applying to medical school – not just to become physicians. “It’s an education you can apply very broadly across areas you might not think about,” he said, including in public health, health care policy, and prison health care.
Rosofsky emphasized that students take courses to develop their quantitative and writing skills, which public health professionals need to examine and interpret data, write grants, develop policies and communicate with the public.
Co-chairs of the Health ClarkCONNECT community include Dimitri; Miranda Katsoyannis ’78, senior program analyst at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; James Gomes, director of Clark’s Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise; Rosalie Torres Stone, associate professor of sociology; and John O’Brien, senior fellow with the Mosakowski Institute and former CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care.
Clark has formed ClarkCONNECT communities in five other areas: Biology and Biosciences, Law and Regulatory Affairs, Creative Arts, Markets and Business, and Psychology, with additional communities planned. The initiative aims to link current students with mentors in fields of interest for support in undergraduates’ college-to-career transition.
All photos by Len Sampson Photography