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Sommer Scholars

Natalie Draisin

Master of Public Health/Master of Business Administration Student

As an incoming freshman at Johns Hopkins University, Natalie Draisin had no inclination to pursue a career in public health. Then, in 2009, a sorority sister was killed by a drunk driver. “I thought it was so unjust that she would never live to see age 21,” says Draisin. “I dealt with her death by advocating for drunk driving prevention.” With Bloomberg School associate professor Jon Vernick, JD, MPH, Draisin worked on legislation requiring repeat drunk driving offenders to use an ignition interlock device—apparatus that prevents drivers from starting their cars when blood-alcohol levels register too high. Maryland voters passed a version of the law in 2011. The experience convinced Draisin that public health was the career path she’d been seeking. After graduation, she landed a health policy job with the Pew Charitable Trusts, and subsequently decided to explore the opposite end of the policy spectrum. “I wanted a closer connection to the people actually affected by policy,” she says. “So I got as close to the ground as I could, working in a small, community-based public health organization in rural Kenya.” Now pursuing dual graduate degrees, Draisin someday hopes to prevent drunk driving on a national scale, by advocating for the mandate of steering wheels that read the blood alcohol content off the driver’s hands. 4,000: Number of miles Draisin cycled across the country to raise money for 4k for Cancer, an organization started by Johns Hopkins students