Brand explores public health field during internship

Hank Brand has a wide range of interests in and beyond the classroom, and he’s considered paths ranging from education, to theatre, to public health. At Cornell he’s found ample opportunities to explore, but through Dimensions opportunities he’s also begun to chart a purposeful course towards a career in public health.

Hank Brand and Obama
Hank Brand: "One of the best parts about the internship was the people I've been able to connect with -- I've really learned a lot from them."

Brand’s interests began to crystallize thanks especially to a summer 2007 internship with the Milwaukee Public Health Department. As part of a tri-annual evaluation of the Milwaukee’s health services, Brand worked directly for the city’s chief epidemiologist.

Working in a city with the largest health disparity in the nation, Brand helped develop and implement surveys and focus groups for citizens of diverse economic and cultural backgrounds. He also worked directly with the commissioner of health, as well as with local business and political leaders, to make tangible improvements.

“It was more than just an assessment,” says Brand. “We tried to put action behind the words.”

Brand’s public health focus was sparked by a public health course led by Dimensions Director Bobbi Buckner-Bentz.

“The reason I like public health is that it bridges a lot of different issues,” Brand says, noting that his work in Milwaukee considered everything from education policy to health delivery systems to the types of food available in local grocery stores.

Brand plans next summer to attend school in Guatemala where he hopes to perform community outreach while learning Spanish. During his senior year, he’s working to arrange a two-block internship with the New York City Public Health Department, or with Senator Tom Harkin working on health and human services issues.  After Cornell, he’s planning a two-year stint with the Peace Corps in Latin America.

After that? A course in Supreme Court law co-taught by district judge David Hansen has led him to consider adding a law degree.

“It’d be a real nice combination.  I wouldn’t practice as a lawyer — I’d be more interested in making policy changes and bringing more focus on the political sides of a lot of health-related issues.”