Students working in a science classroom.Disease outbreaks in recent years have increased the importance of a strong public health system. In conjunction with our mission to educate global citizens with the competence to see and courage to act, Holy Cross College has implemented a public health minor.

“The public health minor is a set of courses within the discipline that will complement almost any major at the college. The minor brings to the forefront various health issues affecting populations, such as infectious disease, environmental hazards, violence, and substance abuse, and how these health issues can be mitigated or prevented through science-based policies and procedures. Like all minors at Holy Cross College, there is a set of required courses that must be taken and a subset of elective courses needed to earn the minor,” said Rodney Robichaud, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Physical and Life Sciences and Assistant Professor of Biology.

Program advantages and goals

Many benefits are available to undergraduates, including small classes (average class size is 14), internships to apply classroom teaching to real-world problems, and the ability to conduct research alongside the University of Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s College students.

“Students will benefit from earning a minor in public health in a number of different ways. Successful completion of the public health minor will provide the foundation for students to pursue career opportunities in local, state, or federal public health departments, hospitals, and health care systems, non-profit organizations, or to further their education in graduate or professional schools,” noted Robichaud. “A public health minor can also strengthen a student’s preparation for clinical careers, as a physician, physician assistant, nurse, or mental health professional. Even if not used directly to follow one of the prementioned professions or career paths, the multidisciplinary approach to public health will provide students with a versatile skill set of enhanced communication abilities and teamwork that will complement their major.”

“There were several goals in creating the public health minor for Holy Cross College. First, to make students aware of the great opportunities that exist within the field of public health. Often incoming students that want to work in the health field, will have a narrow vision of what career paths exist, pre-med, pre-nursing, for example. Public health offers tremendously diverse career opportunities where one can have a large impact on the health and wellbeing of many people. Second, the minor was created for any student at Holy Cross wanting to enhance their major degree with the minor, because under the broad spectrum of the field of public health, graduates with a business, psychology, communications, as well as biology major, can find ample employment within the field. Third, besides offering potentially great career opportunities, the public health minor strongly supports the College mission and helps define our niche in the tri-campus area, as neither the University of Notre Dame nor Saint Mary’s College offers a public health minor,” continued Robichaud.

Practical application

The public health minor prepares students to pursue a graduate degree or embark on a wide range of career options.

“The public health minor will provide the foundation for further education and career opportunities within the field. Careers within public health can be at the local, state, and federal government levels, within private companies or hospitals, and non-profit organizations. The minor can also enhance one’s ability to get into clinical careers and lead to further education in graduate schools. The public health field has many prospective career pathways which are really focused on the health and wellbeing of various populations of people,” said Robichaud.