Fellowship leads Howard to a career in public health

After graduation, Hayden Howard will be using both of his majors and his minor, but not necessarily in the way he’d first imagined. Howard has a job offer from an occupational healthcare provider, has applied to graduate school for a Master’s of Public Health, and is waiting for the results of a third interview for a position working on health policy. He double-majored in sociology and anthropology, and minored in biology. Originally, he’d planned to go to medical school, but after a Cornell Fellowship last summer, he found his passion for public health policy.

Hayden Howard ’14 found his passion for public health at Cornell College.
Hayden Howard ’14 found his passion for public health at Cornell College.

“I discovered that public health policy is the social sciences and biology combined,” he said.

Howard, from Aurora, Texas, was the Anderson Fellow in Public Policy at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores in Arlington, Va. He worked on patient advocacy, education, and developed a Hepatitis C screening program. After that fellowship he spent six months as an intern at the Linn County Department of Public Health, where he helped with the department’s worksite wellness program. He learned how county-level health departments work, and how they use limited resources to address the most urgent needs. Both experiences convinced him that public health was the right path.

“After my Cornell Fellowship, I wanted to jump into public health 100 percent,” he said.

Even before his shift in career plans, Howard knew that he was interested in the intersection of medicine and policy. His first advisor, Brian Nowak-Thompson, associate professor of biology and chemistry, encouraged him to take an anthropology course. That led to a major, and then to another major in sociology. Nowak-Thompson and sociology Professor Erin Davis mentored him as he figured out how he would use what he was learning in courses like Gender, Culture, and Public Policy in Japan to forge a path after Cornell. He’s planning to earn his Master’s of Public Health, even if not immediately after graduation, and one of his career goals, inspired by his internship, is to be a director of a county health department.

Given his track record at Cornell, there wasn’t much doubt of his success. Howard was a four-year letterwinner in football, took part in Student Senate, and chaired the Class of 2014 gift campaign, which has raised record-breaking amounts from seniors. All of those activities, and many more, came from his desire to get as much as possible from his experience at Cornell.

“My parents sacrificed to get me here,” he said, “and I wanted to get absolutely everything I could out of it.”