As the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted Black Americans and shed a light on the importance of public health, Kendra Shannon knew she had to act. Her commitment to creating lasting change in society led her to pursue her Master of Public Health.
Learn more about what inspires her in this Q&A.
Meet Kendra Shannon, Michigan State University Master of Public Health student. She works for Trinity Health IHA Medical Group as a Clinical Support Assistant where she supports patients daily. As a student representative on multiple committees at MSU, Shannon actively shares her perspective and takes advantage of the connections she makes.
June 20, 2022
Why are you pursuing a public health degree?
I’m pursuing a public health degree because I realized that in the United States, health disparities within the Black American population run deep. Black Americans have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Black Americans disproportionately more than other populations in the U.S. due to legal, social, and economic inequities across society, as well as disparities in physical health and access to good medical care.
I realized there is a domino effect: diseases affect minority populations physically, mentally, economically, and socially. So, as a Black American, I asked myself how can I help decrease these disparities? This is the question that challenged me and solidified my decision to pursue a degree in public health.
Why did you choose Michigan State University?
I chose Michigan State University because I felt that it would be the best school to help me reach my goals. Most importantly, this program had a lot of areas of public health which I had the opportunity to explore and/or pursue. With Michigan State being such a big school, I also realized that I could learn a lot from my professors as well as make many connections. Most of all, I saw the work MSU does within the communities of Flint, East Lansing, and neighboring cities. I saw the emphasis that MSU put on helping the communities and the impact that they have made within the communities and this was important to me.
What does being a Michigan State Spartan mean to you?
Being an MSU Spartan means making an impact. To hold the Spartan name, I realize it means that I am paying it forward. I am taking everything that has been taught to me and putting it in place to make my community better.
What professional or educational accomplishment are you most proud of?
So far, I am most proud to be able to work in the COVID vaccine clinic at my job and help administer COVID vaccines when they were first coming out. To be able to help hundreds of people was amazing. Educationally, so far I am honored to be able to be part of the different boards that I am on. To sit on the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for the College of Human Medicine and serve as a student voice has been such an amazing opportunity to be able to share my perspective, especially as a student of color. I also have the opportunity to sit on the student advisory board as the social media coordinator as well as the workforce development committee and learn a lot about identifying issues within the community and creating opportunities to serve the community.
If you were to share a best practice or words of wisdom with prospective MPH students, what would you share?
I would tell them to not be afraid to identify an issue and work to dissolve it. Going into the field of public health means making a commitment to creating change, and everyone has the ability to make change; you just have to believe in yourself!