Brown Undergraduates Named Milken Institute Future Health Leaders

Kaitlyn Camacho-Orona, Huy Nguyen, and Lydia Haile

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank working to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs, and improve health. According to the Institute, “We are strong believers that the only way to solve today’s most pressing public health challenges is by bringing prevention to the forefront, engaging unlikely partners, and collaborating to create and implement actionable solutions that are tailored to community needs.”

As part of this mission, the Institute’s Lynda and Stewart Resnick Center for Public Health is piloting a new Future Health Leaders Program to cultivate the next generation of public health leaders. Acting as a bridge to build partnerships and accelerate action across sectors, the Institute plans to expose students to current public health challenges, such as the opioid crisis and mental health in communities. Brown University is one of four schools participating in the pilot. The program will organize, educate, and collaborate with students like Kaitlyn Camacho-OronaHuy Nguyen, and Lydia Haile chosen for their exceptional promise in their academic and community lives. These students will spend the next year working on various community-level projects and being introduced to public health leaders from various sectors including food and nutrition, mental health and wellness, chronic disease prevention, and emergency preparedness.

Kaitlyn, who completed her undergraduate studies in May, will be staying at Brown to complete the MPH program this Fall. The Pueblo, Colorado native says she is drawn to public health “because it engages people from different disciplines to work together to uncover the root cause of complex health issues and develop practical solutions.”

Kaitlyn’s research is focused on food insecurity and nutrition. She is an Evaluation Coordinator for the Rhode Island Public Health Institute's Food on the Move program and she’s worked extensively with the RI Public Health Association to develop and publish data briefs on food insecurity in the state and the importance of federal hunger programs. Kaitlyn is also the recipient of a summer fellowship project, in collaboration with the Swearer Center, aimed at addressing food insecurity among local high school athletes. Her thesis project will explore food insecurity among NCAA collegiate student athletes. Kaitlyn hopes to pursue a PhD in the future and to address food insecurity on a population level.

Huy Nguyen, a senior Biology concentrator at Brown, was born in Vietnam. He immigrated with his family to the US when he was twelve years old. His goal is to become a physician and he believes his Public Health course work is teaching him the importance of social factors on individual health. Huy has learned “the importance of thinking about health as a manifestation of both biological and social processes.” He’s excited about the networking and collaboration opportunities the Milken Institute’s Future Health Leaders Program will provide and finds the ‘Mental Health and Wellness’ pillar of the Milken Institute especially interesting. “I hope to improve access to mental health care for marginalized people,” he said, “and to revise current frameworks in the mental health profession that do not have a social justice component. The Future Health Leaders Program is a great opportunity for me.” 

Lydia Haile is a senior Public Health concentrator whose parents are Ethiopian immigrants. She is interested in global health and hopes to work on program design and project implementation in developing countries, particularly in her parents' home country. Lydia is excited about Milken’s Future Health Leaders Program because, not only is it dedicated to the development of the public health workforce, but also to each of the participants individually. “I’m looking forward to working with public health organizations in a hands on fashion,” she said, “and I’m excited to see how this work will shape my understanding of the field and future avenues in public health.”

The Milken Institute’s Future Health Leaders Program should help to bring these exceptional Brown students closer to their goals with networking and career path opportunities. In return, the Milken Institute aims to learn more about what the next generation finds to be the most pressing public health challenges of the day, to better understand regional and community health differences, and to build relationships with students who are on their way to becoming the world’s future health leaders.

Congratulations Kaitlyn, Huy, and Lydia!