Greg Langan is a graduate student in Temple’s College of Public Health who is working toward his MSW-MPH dual degree. We talked with him about why he chose Temple and what he’s enjoying about his MPH concentration in social and behavioral sciences.
How were you introduced to public health?
It’s something I found on my own – it was something I really learned about growing up. I always thought disease was something that you dealt with as an individual: If I have a cold, I go to the doctor and take care of it. But as I grew older, I learned that disease affects whole groups of people.
What interests you about public health?
I’m most excited about the way trends in health and disease on the population level affect individuals and how we can try to prevent illness at the individual level. I think there need to be more concentrated efforts in prevention and education – instead of having tertiary care as a goal, seeing preventative care as a new goal.
Why did you choose Temple’s MPH program?
I grew up in this area, and I see Philadelphia as a special city. It’s so diverse, economically and culturally. I think Temple University embodies those characteristics more than any other school in the region. In the MPH program, students are individuals and are encouraged to get involved in the community – for a large urban university, that stood out for me. Because students have so many opportunities to engage and the college has so many connections, if you’re looking to jumpstart a career, I feel like this is the best place to start.
What do you like about the faculty?
The thing I admire most about Temple faculty is that they’re not just here as professors – they’re here to help you in any way they can. For my internship, I needed some research help and I reached out to one of my professors. She sent me a whole list of studies to look at. The professors really want to help you succeed.
How do you want to use this degree after you graduate?
I want to work with LGBT individuals. In that population there are many health disparities, as well as stigma associated with those disparities. Gay men, for example, have a disproportionately high rate of HIV infection. Because HIV is now treatable, there’s less focus on it – even though it still affects millions of people in this country.
I’m currently interning with the AIDS Education and Training Center, working with clinicians and medical systems to improve health outcomes in HIV-positive patients. They work closely with the Ryan White Foundation. I would love to work in a setting like that, doing similar research in HIV prevention.
Why did you choose the dual MSW-MPH degree?
I see it as a way to work on macro and micro levels – thinking about populations on the MPH side, and opening the door to counseling and therapy at the individual level. Temple has been offering the MSW-MPH dual degree for a long time, so they know how it works.
What’s a moment in your program when you knew you were in the right place?
There have been a couple of moments when I knew this is exactly where I should be. Over the summer, I was taking an online course, and I was talking with the professor about a paper I was working on. She pointed me in new directions, and being intellectually stimulated like that made me very happy. Another moment was taking classes on social justice and social policy, and talking with classmates about how those issues affect individual and community health. Having those discussions with people from all over the country with different perspectives – you can’t put a price on that.
How has the program changed you?
I see so many areas where I just didn’t realize that I was ignorant or biased. I became more aware of the privileges I’ve grown up with and how that affects my health. I’ve learned that we’re not cardboard cutouts – we all face some similar issues and some different issues, within and across populations. It’s been eye-opening to see how I can relate to others now.
What’s special about the College of Public Health community?
There is a strong sense of community here, especially in the MPH program. We are all here to make a difference. We are all here to change people’s lives in a positive way, and being around these students and faculty is so stimulating. We’re all here to grow, not only as students but also as public health professionals, and we all help each other – that’s amazing.