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Why Engagement Is Important to Me

October 31, 2013

Hello everyone, and welcome to the inaugural post of the Students and New Professionals Working Group Blog. 

Here, we will feature stories from OPHA members who are in the beginning stages of their careers in one of the many diverse streams that public health has to offer. As readers and writers, these posts will give you a chance to share your passion for public health with each other, and with the greater public health community, too. It is my pleasure to kick things off with the first blog entry.  Aptly themed for the first post, I wanted to share my thoughts on why I value being engaged in public health.

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be in public health, but my involvement with the student community as well as the greater Hamilton community during my time at McMaster University brought me closer to public health and made school much more worthwhile. For me, being engaged is synonymous with being involved in groups, and associations like clubs at your school, volunteer groups, professional development groups, or even recreational activities. These are great ways to become exposed to new ideas while connecting and collaborating with people who share your interests. I can personally attest to the benefits I experienced as a result of being engaged with my university, particularly in my exposure to new opportunities and ideas. I cannot imagine how I would have ended up here otherwise!

Engagement is about participating, developing leadership qualities, meeting like-minded individuals, being involved, and understanding the bigger picture, maybe not all at once, but gradually. Engagement gives me the chance to grow professionally and personally. Being involved with the OPHA has increased my self-confidence, provided me with new skills, and expanded my network. I’m sure others out there who are involved with something that they are passionate about feel the same way.

Beyond a doubt, I have felt engaged with public health through my academic work and beyond. The feeling of pride from working on a social justice paper or becoming so immersed in an analysis of health trends that time seems to fly by, are things that stem from genuine passion. This is what engagement feels like. Like working harder than you ever have without it feeling like work at all.

But what happens when school comes to an end, or your contract is over and you start feeling a tad removed from public health? Well, that is your signal to get back in and become involved!   
Personally, my participation in the OPHA has helped me to feel engaged again. I am grateful for volunteer-run organizations like the OPHA for giving people like you and I the chance to be involved and make a difference in the public health landscape. Many organizations, OPHA included, are waiting for people who are passionate about public health to step forward and become involved.

Are you involved with public health, or something else you’re passionate about? What does engagement mean to you? Feel free to keep the conversation by commenting on the original post at http://ophablog.wordpress.com .

ABOUT THE FEATURED WRITER:
Megha Bhavsar is a final year student at the University of Waterloo’s Master of Public Health program. She is a member of the OPHA’s New Professionals Working Group, and is excited to engage students and new professionals in public health. Her public health interests are many but the top three include: epidemiology, health communication, and program evaluation.  You can connect with her on Twitter (@meghabee), or LinkedIn.

FOR MEMBERS:
If you are an OPHA member who enjoys writing, is passionate about public health, and have a story to share, you can be featured here next. Contact Megha Bhavsar at meghabhav@gmail.com by  November 15, 2013. Please include “OPHA Blog” in the subject. Include 2-3 ideas of topics you would like to write about. Topics can include (but are not limited to): your internship/practicum experience, entering the workforce, an opinion piece on a current public health hot topic, public health research, etc., or perhaps you’re a member with an established public health career and would like to share your wisdom with the next generation!

STAY ENGAGED:
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably curious about being engaged with public health and OPHA. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and check out our website for regular updates.  

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