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Roger Wong, Class of 2012

Ph.D. candidate in Public Health Sciences at Washington University

St. Louis, Missouri

When did you graduate from Cornell?

"I graduated Cornell in 2012."

What led you down this career path?

"Medical careers are often person-centered and focused on treating diseases for each person individually. I have always been interested at the other side of the spectrum. I want my efforts to have an impact on a community/national/global-level, by preventing and addressing the underlying causes (environment, socio-demographics, etc.) that are contributing to these recurring diseases that people face, which is the goal of my current field in public health."

Can you talk a little bit about what a typical day in your workplace entails?

"I spend one day teaching a course, Introduction to Research Methods in Public Health, for Master’s of Public Health (MPH) graduate students. I spend two days a week preparing for my lectures. I spend the remaining days of the week working on my own independent research or collaborating with faculty members on their research projects. Some of my research has me out in the community collecting my own data, or I use public data funded by the government to tackle a research question that remains unanswered." 

What advice do you have for current Cornellians?

"If I could go back in time, I would make more of an effort to network and talk to people in the fields that I am interested in entering. In my case for instance, I would have liked to talk to more graduate students and faculty members to see what I need to change to do what they are doing. They are so willing to help, but undergraduates just need to take the first step to ask for help and seek advice. I absolutely love what I do now, but I wished I had more opportunities to talk to someone close to my interests to have reached my current position much faster.

Also, I recommend all current biology majors to consider looking into public health as a future career direction. These have varying job roles such as being a biostatistician, epidemiologist, program evaluator, researcher, professor, or public health department administrator. In my time, there was barely any discussion about this field, but so much of the work in public health makes great changes across the world (CDC, WHO, etc.). Furthermore, I know at least for my current university, about 1/3 of all MD’s also get an MPH because they understand the importance of gaining these skills and knowledge."