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Brown Scholars

Desmond Flagg

This is a life and death situation every day.Desmond Flagg, MPH
PhD Student, Health Policy and Management
Enrolled 2009

Never forgetting the past that shaped him, Desmond Flagg applied for a C. Sylvia and Eddie C. Brown Community Health Scholarship to change public health policy in the realm of nutrition. A fourth-year Brown Scholar, Flagg earned his BA from Columbia University and his MPH from Hunter College in New York City.

As a child, Flagg became obese on a steady diet of fried chicken, deep-fried pork rinds, cookies, and thick, fatty bacon. At age 10, he and his family moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The new environment provided access to healthier foods. He also became involved in athletics and went on to play varsity football at Columbia University.

Like his hometown in Georgia, he discovered that East Baltimore suffers from a blight of fast-food chains and convenience stores that push “hood exclusives,” like super-sized honey buns, to the detriment of the community’s health. He views the lack of healthy foods in urban neighborhoods as a social justice issue, and wants to take on the food industry to help give people access to healthy dietary choices, no matter where they live.

As a Brown Scholar, Flagg feels a responsibility to improve the health of Baltimore. “The Browns and the University chose me. Needless to say, I take my roles as a PhD student, a health care professional and a policy advocate very seriously,” he says. “I have been called upon to help improve the situation, and I accept the call.”

His career interests include child obesity, food policy, the causes and consequences of unmarried childbearing, and educational attainment among Blacks and Hispanics. After graduation, he plans to help advance policies which improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged populations. 

He works as a research assistant for the Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.