Written By: Christiny Celestin/Olivia Olmo
What is PHaM, and what does it stand for?
PHaM is a diverse group of individuals who help create a dialogue around the importance of public health among pre-health students, health professionals, and our ever-changing communities. PHaM stands for Public Health and Medicine. Despite what many may think, both disciplines work hand-in-hand to protect the health of our communities. As members, we consider ourselves a “PHaMily,” working with one another to educate the community about public health through advocacy, volunteering, and community outreach.
When and why was PHaM created?
PHaM was created in February 2020. Yes, that’s right, we are a brand-new club, entering our second semester working for students, by students! Public health is a multifaceted discipline, and we aim to address the social issues affecting disadvantaged communities, women of color, minorities, victims of violence, and the homeless population through the lens of public health and medicine. We foster collaborations with physicians, community organizations, and resources in hopes of providing the tools, opportunities, and relationships needed for aspiring health professionals at Brooklyn College. As a PHaMily, we try to create a space of inclusivity, where our members feel safe surrounded by other students with similar interests.
What kind of events does PHaM organize? What events do you have in store for this semester?
We host events that provide opportunities to interact, listen, and gain advice from professionals within the field of Public Health and Medicine. Last semester, (Spring 2020), we had many events in store for our members, including hosting a mental-health first-aid training in collaboration with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, a panel to introduce students to the multidisciplinary field of public health, and a film screening of the documentary Bending the Arc (2017), in partnership with the Boston-based global nonprofit, Partners in Health. But with the closing of Brooklyn College only a month after PHaM’s launch, we had to adapt to the “new normal.” We continued to bring interactive virtual events to our members, and plan to do the same, if not more, this fall. In addition to virtual events, we also hope to bring socially-distanced volunteer opportunities and in-person events in the upcoming months.
This semester, for example, we’re working on hosting an in-person coat drive — while maintaining social distancing, of course! We’re also in the process of setting up a book club that will foster discussions about various aspects of public health. Additionally, we hope to invite public professionals to speak to our members. And there’s more…
This week Thursday, October 8th, we’re collaborating with the Women of Color on campus to host a Domestic Violence Awareness event. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and our goal is to shed light on what domestic violence looks like, prevention measures that can be taken to mitigate it, and resources one can turn to.
In November, we plan to collaborate with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Psychology Club at Brooklyn College to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on mental health — particularly in communities of color, where there are disproportionate rates of COVID-19.
Throughout this semester, we will host Zoom study-hall sessions and Netflix parties that keep our members engaged while maintaining school work as a priority.
What types of students will benefit most from your club?
PHaM’s goal is to expose students who are also interested in health careers (physicians, nurses, radiologists, etc.) to social-justice issues that impact the system. PHaM welcomes students from many different disciplines. Students who are interested in the multidisciplinary approach of Public Health and exploring what Public Health has to offer will benefit from PHaM. Oftentimes, it may be difficult to find a support system throughout the grueling process of medical-school applications. Therefore, our mission is to offer students programming and networking opportunities that can potentially lead to successful matriculation to Postgraduate schools. Through social-media and email outreach, we are working to keep our members up-to-date on resources and events that address everything, from personal-statement writing techniques and women’s health to the effects of COVID-19 through the lens of frontline workers and internship opportunities.
Christiny Celestin is the President of PHaM, and Olivia Olmo is the Secretary