A Message for New Graduates

A message from NJPHA President, Kevin McNally

This is a message for anyone who recently received a degree related to Public Health. On behalf of the members of the New Jersey Public Health Association, I congratulate you on this achievement.

To those of you who are working public health professionals who went back to school to earn an advanced degree, I acknowledge your commitment to improve your knowledge and skills in order to contribute even more to the health of our population than you already have.

To those of you for whom this degree is the beginning of a career in public health, I welcome you to the public health community. For public health is just that. More than just a job, public health is a community of dedicated individuals who seek to combine their efforts to the vision of healthy communities, and better health for everyone who lives and works in them. If you are willing to dedicate yourself to this vision, and to bring your passion to everything that you do, it can be among the most rewarding careers that you could choose.

You have chosen a particularly challenging and at the same time crucial time to enter the public health arena. You’ve learned about the challenges we face in your classes: new and re-emerging diseases, environmental hazards, increases in chronic diseases due to lifestyle choices, a changing climate, and global transportation that means that a disease outbreak half a world away can be in our own communities tomorrow. And at the same time we must deal with all these with limited and too often shrinking resources.

And yet many of the challenges you will face in your careers are unknown to you today, just as many of today’s challenges – AIDS, Ebola, bioterrorism, and climate change – were unknown when I received my Master’s Degree 40 years ago. Just one year ago, few of us had heard of the Zika virus. So earning your degree, while a major milestone, is not the end of your education. A commitment to lifelong learning is more vital now than it has ever been.

I have just one piece of advice. In my experience, the best way to integrate yourself into the community that is public health is by joining and participating in a professional association. Through this participation you will get to meet and collaborate with other public health people and find opportunities for networking and professional development. In particular, the organization that brings together people from all aspects of public health is the American Public Health Association. Our organization, the New Jersey Public Health Association is an affiliate of APHA. NJPHA is made up of dedicated people, like you, who are committed to public health and to making a difference.

I am pleased to be able to offer to all recent graduates a free one-year membership in NJPHA. To take advantage of this offer, please go to our website - www.njpha.org – click on “Membership”, and sign up using the “New Professional” category.

Congratulations and good luck!