Public health official aims to address disparities
Brennan Burrows said he didn’t know what public health was when he came to the University of Michigan.
Four years of study and a global pandemic later, it’s safe to say that Burrows has a solid understanding of the field and a pretty clear picture of its future.
Burrows is expected to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in public health from the School of Public Health and a minor in multidisciplinary engineering design.
He credits his membership in the Health Sciences Scholars Program, a vibrant learning community for first-year students, for helping him become familiar with the field and a tight-knit community of friends.
“We all took a course together as pre-health students, which exposed us to the field of public health,” Burrows said. “I thought public health was really interesting because it balanced biology with the social determinants of health. Having this perspective in medicine will allow me to be more aware of how our environment shapes health and leads to health disparities.
In the interest of exploring this field in greater depth, he traveled to India on the South Asia Summer Fellowship after his freshman year to intern in an organization for six weeks. There, he worked with local health clinics where his spark for public health grew.
His sophomore year was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it presented Burrows with opportunities to get involved in the university and public health. As public health navigator for SPH, he surveyed students about their needs during the pandemic and communicated the results to faculty and administrators.
Over the past year, his role has included outreach specifically to international students and students who are parents — populations that are “not well represented” at school, he said.
Burrows also served as a contact tracer for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and had difficult conversations with COVID-positive patients who disagreed with quarantining.
Most recently, he participated in Project MESA, a global health project where participants focus on developing a portable gynecological examination table to help health officials reach remote rural communities, particularly in America. from South. This summer, he will travel to Peru to test the device and collect data.
Burrows plans to start medical school at Wayne State University a month after returning from Peru and is keeping his options open for the type of doctor he will become.
A native of Oxford, Michigan, and a graduate of Oxford High School, Burrows said he has come to appreciate his small hometown more since the tragic shooting there on Nov. 30, 2021.
“It motivates me to put my public health education into action because I recognize how gun violence and politics can shape our health,” he said. “It helped solidify my future plans to reduce health disparities.”