Meet Lois Sharpe, President of Public Health Club

Her Campus: Tell me a little bit about yourself!

Lois Sharpe: My name is Lois Sharpe. I am a senior, Public Health major, double minor in Chemistry and Biology and I’m on the Pre-Med track. So, it’s quite a lot. I’m the president of the Public Health Club, a Center for Writing and Speaking tutor, the treasurer of Mortar Board, and I’m also a community engagement co-chair with Every Campus a Refuge.

HC: Wow! That’s a lot! What do you do for fun in between all of that?

LS: For fun? I like to listen to music, I like to play music. I sometimes watch videos on YouTube.

HC: What instruments do you play?

LS: I mostly play flute, a little bit of piano, and I am technically a beginner at bass guitar, but I’ve been playing since I was 12. I just pluck on it every now and again.

HC: I love the bass. Next question, why did you choose Public Health as a major?

LS: I’ve always been interested in healthcare and I was first introduced to Public Health through my mom. She works for the CDC, and has been with them for nearly seventeen years, or since 2000. She has helped me to understand the more non-biological aspects of public health, and she graduated with a Ph.D. in medical sociology, so she’s awesome! I also chose Public Health because I have always been interested in medicine, but more about the societal determinants of health. Environment, social, political, etc... As someone who is an aspiring physician, I think it is important to understand those underlying health problems. There’s a common phrase out there that goes, “Your zip code determines your health.” A lot of what you are exposed to, and things that determine your health are dependent on income, your quality of education, even where you live. Many times, minoritized communities are subject to bad political decisions that affect their health. I want to be more vocal in the political decision making process, especially if I practice in a community that is underserved. I want to have some kind of voice for the people that don’t really have a voice, and you get to interact with a community as a physician.

HC: That’s really admirable.

LS: Yeah, I also decided to pursue a career in medicine because I’ve always been told that I was “predestined” for medicine. I was a really premature baby. I was born three and a half months early [on] August 18, 1994 when I was supposed to [be born on] December 7th. I always remember [this] because that was the day of the Pearl Harbor attacks. I was born one pound three ounces at birth, which was crazy. But I had awesome neonatologists that saved both my life and the life of my mom. I didn’t really understand the significance of that until later in life. Also medicine is a part of my life because my mom is a cancer survivor. She had stage one uterine cancer when I was a freshman in High School. I had a friend, too, in high school that had a rare genetic disorder that predisposed her to a bunch of cancers and she unfortunately passed away when I was a sophomore in high school.

HC: Wow, I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing that. That’s really powerful that you have this mission in life, and I think that will inspire a lot of people.  

LS:  Yeah, so that really influenced my desire to become a physician.

HC: Tell me about Public Health Week? How did it start?

LS: Public Health Club actually started a few years back, and it really didn’t have a strong presence on campus until maybe around last year. Basically, the mission has morphed to focus on promoting health on campus and teaching students about what public health is about. So, a couple years ago, when I was treasurer of the Public Health Club, we started thinking about creating a Public Health Week. Today was Mental Health Monday, we had Sierra Beasleyㅡ a junior public health major at Agnesㅡcome speak to students about the mental health aspects of public health. She was really great because she was able to talk to students about some really intense mental health experiences, and we gave her a platform for that today and we had a pretty good turn out! Tuesday is Trivia Tuesday! We’ll have a bunch of Public Health trivia questions set up like a Jeopardy game. The person who gets the most points wins a prize!

HC: Ooo!! I love prizes!

LS: Yes! Bring all of your friends. Wednesday is “Get Fit Wednesday”. We’re going to have a lot of great games on the Science Quad, so people can come outside and enjoy some activities. It’s a great way to get active and de-stress, especially because finals are coming up soon. It’s always good to take some time out of your afternoon to run around and relax. Thursday is “Guest Speaker Thursday” with Dr. Tanya LeBlanc, who is my mom! She is going to talk about her career in public health and some of her experiences. It’s going to be really interesting to hear about her experiences. Fun Friday, is going to be so much fun! There’s going to be food and a water balloon fight! And finally prizes for the Billion Step Challenge. We have seven teams signed up, and so the team with the most steps by the end of the week will win a prize. I’m also going to create another space for other people to participate for fun so that we can track how many steps we are taking on campus.

HC: That seems like so much fun! Is there anything else?

LS: Yes! The last thing we have going on is a collaboration with the school’s free store. We are taking donations of unopened hygiene products (tampons, pads, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.) in the donation boxes in Alston ground floor and first floor as well as Evans. And we are collecting donations all week long. These donations are for students that really need it and may not have the funds to provide the products for themselves.

HC: Awesome! Thank you so much for speaking with me! I’m really looking forward to the rest of Public Health Week. LS: Thank you!