Jeff Duong loves to volunteer. Teaching English to immigrants, serving meals in a soup kitchen, working as a medical assistant at a free clinic in Peru, even entertaining kids as Curious George at the Baltimore City Book Festival—he’s done it all. And that’s what he loves about public health—the chance to learn a little bit of everything to do a whole lot of good: “As with volunteering, in public health I can help different populations with different struggles using different skill sets,” Duong says.
He especially wants to learn ways to target and prevent youth violence and aggression, bullying in schools in particular. Volunteering in college at an after-school program for disadvantaged kids, Duong had to deal with physical and verbal bullying frequently. “Bullying prevention takes a lot of work because the etiology and acts of bullying are so complicated, and they are only going to get more complicated as technology allows kids to victimize each other through different media.”
To prepare for these challenges, Duong will study child development theories and health communication and health education strategies, and refine his skills for conducting research in epidemiology and biostatistics. He plans to apply theories of health behavior not commonly utilized in youth violence research. Because violence can occur in the home and community as well as schools, he plans to develop innovative, effective ways to curb youth violence through television and videos, computers and the Internet, the media, and community-based programs. “Youth violence is not just about prevention, but about harm reduction for the victims as well,” he says. “There is still much we can learn about how family members, psychologists, school officials, family physicians or even community leaders can help ameliorate the harmful effects of victimization for victims of youth aggression.”
Medical Student, University of California, Davis - School of Medicine