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    • Dean Jody Heymann, center, with FSPH students
      Dean Jody Heymann, center, with FSPH students

From the Dean, Spring/Summer 2014

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THE PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGES WE FACE, both at home and abroad, are formidable. Globally, far too many deaths can be attributed to preventable or addressable factors - from inadequate living conditions and environmental hazards to physical inactivity and poor nutrition. In the United States, we rank last among high-income countries in preventable deaths. Threats such as natural and intentional disasters, emerging infectious diseases and climate change demand increased attention, and traditional public health concerns aren’t going away.

Nonetheless, every day I spend as dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health leaves me optimistic about the future. The reason is our students. The intellect, passion, and boundless energy they bring to their studies and fieldwork fills me with hope. When I see their commitment to building a healthier world and learn how each of them is already making an impact, I am convinced beyond a doubt that with these women and men leading future public health initiatives locally and globally, no challenge is insurmountable.

In May, we launched a major fundraising effort for the Fielding School, tied to the UCLA Centennial Campaign. Our top priority: obtaining student fellowship support. For so many of our students, public health education is difficult – or impossible – without financial assistance. As much as they yearn to make a difference in the world, the prospect of graduating with a large debt burden relative to their projected income in public service can't be ignored. These economic concerns tend to weigh most heavily on students from the very communities that most need public health professionals. We need to change this equation. Our goal is to provide full tuition for outstanding applicants to our school’s MPH program, because cost should never deter gifted and dedicated young people from going into public health.

This issue of our magazine is dedicated to the Fielding School students. As you read about some of them – what brought them here, the impact they are making and their plans for the future – you will understand why I am energized every day by these remarkable individuals, and why we are determined to support them as they pursue their dreams.

Jody Heymann, MD, PhD
Dean