Why Students choose the School of Public Health

Benika Dixon

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Program:

Doctorate in Epidemiology

Origins:

Connecticut

Degrees:

Undergraduate degree in Chemistry
MPH

Professional Interests:

Hazards/Disasters, Environmental Exposure, Epidemiology Community Engagement, Environmental Justice

Involvement:

William Averette Anderson Fund, EpiAssist, Graduate Teaching Consultant

 

“I hope to inspire other students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in public health. I would encourage students to come to the Texas A&M School of Public Health because of the supportive faculty and the endless opportunities to conduct impactful research.”

 

Witnessing the extensive human impacts of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and after serving as a public health emergency planner during the Freddy Gray Riots in Baltimore, I was inspired to further pursue a career in disaster and environmental epidemiology. I believe it is my responsibility to have a seat at the table to bring a diverse perspective and to advocate on behalf of individuals that come from low-income, minority populations. These communities, which are most vulnerable to hazards/disasters, need to know that there are people ready to work for and with them.

Prior to attending Texas A&M School of Public Health, I assisted in the development of the Emergency Response Team at Morgan State University, as well as worked with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to develop the HBCU Emergency Management Consortium. I am also a Founding Fellow of the Bill Anderson Fund, a fellowship developed for doctoral students to expand the number of historically underrepresented professionals in the field of disaster and hazard research and practice.

I came to the School of Public Health because the faculty members were conducting noteworthy research in the areas of hazard/disaster and environmental epidemiology. I am currently working with Dr. Garett Sansom on a few environmental exposure-based research projects. My dissertation research focuses on the health and environmental risk perceptions of residential exposure to creosote, a liquid mixture of chemicals used in the process of wood preservation and a probable human carcinogen. I also worked with faculty at the School of Public Health to develop the Aggie MPH Core Curriculum. I was able to use my experience as a public health practitioner to assistant in the development of curriculum that will help to prepare students for the complex problems they may face in the public health workforce.

I am thankful that I can combine my experience as a public health practitioner and knowledge gained from the school to address the health impacts communities face when hazards and disasters strike.