Our Alumni

Katelyn Benson, MPH

Katelyn Benson

How did you become interested in community health and health behavior as your field of study?

I became interested in the field of public health when I learned about health disparities in my undergraduate psychology classes and heard about the issues some people face in accessing medical care. Even within the medical system, I knew that there were often barriers to effective health behavior changes, such as limited food access. 

The community health and health behavior program was the perfect opportunity for me to learn about strategies to address these issues. We cover health behavior theories, intervention planning, epidemiology, public health research and much more, all with the aim of improving health at the population level. The program has been an ideal foundation for me to pursue a career in medicine. 

Why did you choose UB?

I grew up an hour south of Buffalo, in Chautauqua County, so I appreciated being closer to my family after being out of state for undergrad. 

More importantly, UB and the Buffalo area have so much to offer. There is a strong partnership between the school and the community. I loved that the work being done in my classes had clear relevance for so many of the diverse residents in the City of Good Neighbors. It is great to see improvements in the community as a result of the public health students' work. The faculty are so accomplished yet still approachable, and have provided such great mentorship.  

Tell us more about your experience in the community health and health behavior MPH program.

In my first year, I completed the required classes. These provided a background in all essential public health disciplines. Beyond these, I took a course on refugee health, health disparities, and completed a field training experience. The integrated project was an exciting opportunity to work on a project that allows students to be creative and apply what they have learned to a professional project about a topic they are passionate about.

Outside of class, I was a research assistant for Dr. Homish's research project Operation: SAFETY, and I served as senator and treasurer for the CHHB Graduate Student Association. I also worked with the UB HEALS organization to develop a participant tracking system for their outreach.

What did you enjoy the most about the community health and health behavior MPH program?

The best things about the program by far were the amazing mentors and the transformational opportunities I have had. Even those faculty I didn't have class with or haven't even met knew me and would go out of their way to help me. Our department is very collaborative and provides so much student support.  

How does receiving a degree from UB School of Public Health and Health Professions set you apart?

A degree from UB shows that I have a well-developed public health skill set, and that I will be able to apply these skills effectively in the field. Students from UB have a distinct and advanced ability to evaluate the determinants of health behavior, and apply and evaluate evidence-based interventions.