After transferring to UMass Lowell in 2015 as a sophomore, public health major Aaron Wilson immersed himself in campus life, getting involved in everything from clubs to research. He served as president of the Leaders Educating and Promoting for Health club, news director of WUML and a student government senator representing the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences.
“My overall college experience has been really awesome,” says Wilson, who chose UML because of the strength of the public health program and the opportunities to apply what he learned to the real world.
“There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t see scenarios where public health is not applicable,” he says. “I’m thankful for the knowledge I’ve acquired through my coursework and work experiences, because it will hopefully allow me to evaluate health from a holistic approach.”
In one of Wilson’s favorite classes, “Social Determinants of Health,” he learned about how demographics, housing, income and other factors play a role in health risks and outcomes.
“The question public health seeks to answer is, how do we fix the early signs and symptoms of problems in a society before they become more serious and then dangerous?” he says. “I see public health as similar to preventative medicine – a branch that focuses on identifying potential problems and hazards in a community before they fully manifest.”
Solving problems was the highlight of Wilson’s research experience at UMass Lowell. He worked as a laboratory assistant at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), an organization that encourages companies and communities to reduce toxic chemical use.
“During my three years at TURI, I learned about industrial hygiene, carcinogenic chemical effects on humans and how to develop cleaner solutions for an environmentally friendly future for the next generation,” he says. “This experience piqued my interest to pursue other areas of research.”
Wilson, who graduated in 2019, plans to work as an EMT while preparing to apply to medical schools.
“I’ve always had an interest in public health and plan on going into medicine,” he says. “I want to use my knowledge of public health to assist my patients when they transition back to the real world so that they may lead better and more productive lives.”