Skip Navigation


Admissions Blog

Keyword: health education

In Tuesday’s blog, I introduced you to Kenai McFadden, an incoming Bloomberg School of Public Health student for the MSPH in Health Education and Health Communication. After spending two years in the HealthCorps working in Houston, Texas, Kenai is ready to continue his education in a different path than intended (if you missed Tuesday’s blog, I highly encourage you to read it).

While interviewing Kenai, his passion for working with communities, particularly minority communities, permeated every answer. One of the things he’s excited about is volunteering in Baltimore and working in the city. His experiences in Houston were mostly with immigrant populations and he saw firsthand how a cultural background shapes a population from education to health. The opportunity to go to a new city and a new population was a major factor in Kenai’s desire to join the Bloomberg School.

For his degree program, even though he meets the two years of professional health experience requirement for the MPH program, he chose to apply for the MSPH in Health Education and Health Communication through the Department of Health, Behavior and Society because of the nine month field placement and the larger focus on health education. Much like his desire to work in Baltimore, Kenai wanted the experience of implementing what he has learned and making an impact while earning his degree.

For now, Kenai will finish his remaining weeks teaching at Sharpstown High School. But look out, Baltimore. Mr. Mac is coming to town this fall, and he’s ready to teach us how to live a healthy, preventative lifestyle.

As a storyteller, I’m always curious how someone becomes passionate about public health. Whether you start as a doctor, researcher or policymaker, the spark of how someone finds public health is always interesting to me. When the Houston Press published an article last week on Kenai McFadden, one of our incoming master’s students for Fall 2017, I knew I wanted to reach out to him and share his story.

Like many of us who fall into public health, Kenai didn’t realize the work he was doing through the HealthCorps was called Public Health. As the Health Coordinator at Sharpstown High School in Houston, Texas, Kenai was able to individualize the programming to the needs of the school (93% of Sharpstown’s student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch and 98% of the population is Latino). Generally, food access is a focus within the HealthCorps curriculum. Kenai says that his aim has been to “help students understand through multidisciplinary means that they can indeed afford, cook and eat delicious, healthy food. Students are taught hard skills in nutrition, such as measuring out the sugar in their drinks, analyzing their school lunches and preparing balanced meals in their very own school.”

Kenai’s curriculum isn’t limited to nutrition. He also works with students on fitness and mental health care. One way that he found to be a creative outlet was a schoolwide meditation over the intercom called 10@10. Kenai leads the entire school in 10 minutes of meditation at 10 a.m.

Throughout the two years he’s worked in the Sharpstown community, he said the most fulfilling times have been when he’s able to speak with people who have made a change in their lives. He doesn’t mind getting up early on Saturdays to open a market he runs because it ensures the patrons have food over the weekend. His most memorable moment was when one patron told him the market is “life”.

Now, as his two years of service are ending, Kenai is a central member of the Sharpstown community. When I asked him what he thought of doing after earning his master’s degree, one option he considers is starting a nonprofit in Houston; but, he is also considering medical school. What happens over the next two years will probably help define his next steps.

Later in the week, I’ll be sharing how Kenai chose the Bloomberg School as the place to continue his education.