Alina Li



Undergraduate Institution: Emory University
Undergraduate Major: Neuroscience

Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?
The Brown School of Public Health has a culture of helping others, not only in academic work but also as a community. When I visited, I could tell the students were comfortable with each other and passionate about their work. Folks here are invested in helping with your academic work as well as your personal well-being. At the same time, you are given independence to create your own projects with Brown's resources. There is a tangible compassion for each other and the communities with which we work. The faculty and staff are equally supportive, always keeping their inboxes and office doors open. As graduate school is no easy feat, I found Brown's supportive environment to be attractive and necessary for my growth.

What makes Brown's program different from other programs you considered?
Brown is unique in its small size and close-knit community. Compared to larger programs with hundreds of students, you have the advantage of knowing faculty and staff personally. Our core classes have no more than 50 students and include plenty of TAs to facilitate learning. While other programs also have many resources, the Brown School of Public Health provides enough opportunities for each student to learn and practice public health. Professors and TAs truly make the effort to ensure you have the time and space to talk with them outside of class! The program coordinators also know us very well, and consistently advocate on our behalf when any challenge arises.

What do you enjoy most about your program?
I love that the MPH program encompasses students of a variety of backgrounds and interests. We emphasize that public health is an inter-professional field that requires teamwork and collaboration. The program administrators create many events where we can learn from our classmates' public health experiences, which often are very different from your own! We also have several guest lecturers who describe the work of Brown and Providence-area health initiatives. In addition to our own theses and applied public health experiences, we learn about a variety of public health avenues and how to discuss them. Exploring different public health work helps me determine my future directions as a scholar and professional.

What is your academic area of interest and why?
I am interested in studying mental health. For example, I will examine the differences between treatment-seeking and non-seeking women with eating disorders under the supervision of Dr. Alison Field. In the past, I have conducted research on PTSD, depression, and anxiety through the Grady Trauma Project in Atlanta, Georgia. As psychiatric disorders become more prevalent nationally and globally, I would like to prevent and treat mental illnesses. Mental illnesses are often stigmatized, and we have a responsibility to clarify public knowledge through research. I am also interested in the underlying mechanisms and cultural differences of psychiatric disorders.

What are your postgraduate goals/plans?
I hope to work for the government to understand how public health systems can work better. I would also like to be involved in advocacy organizations that support marginalized communities to achieve their health-related needs.

Why Providence?
Providence has its charms as a small city between NYC and Boston. Its size makes travel convenient, policies influential, and connections quick to foster. The many artistic and service-based organizations make Providence a vibrant place as well! I love AS220 for its dance classes and art workshops or the RISD street fair for my local craft purchases, as examples. Social justice is not limited to Brown University either - Dorcas International, PrYSM, and so many other organizations advocate for marginalized communities here. I also love to visit the parks, beaches, and local markets. There are always so many activities to do in your free time! If there are events in NYC or Boston, it is so easy to go to them for conferences, networking, or leisure too. I often take the train and bus to visit when I have the time!

What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
Reach out to faculty and students who share similar interests to you! Even if you do not end up working directly with them, they often share amazing advice and can refer you to great opportunities. Graduate school can be intimidating and the folks you meet are more than willing to help you navigate. The support network you build here is incredible, so long as you put in the effort.

Learn more about Brown's MPH program