International Health Major Opens Doors to Developing World
In 2014, Bethel launched its distinctive new International Health Major, designed to prepare students for the rapidly growing Public Health field. Through this program, students gain knowledge and skills for the improvement of global health, including safe water, food security, environmental sustainability, economic development and education.
Kyle Bussse ’17 graduates this April with a B.S. in International Health, as well as a B.A.in Spanish. He also has a music minor and is a member of Bethel’s Concert Choir. Along with an array of community involvement efforts, Busse serves as a teaching assistant in Bethel’s science department and a research assistant to Assistant Professor of Biology Brian Ellis, Ph.D. As a student with a variety of interests and passions, the multidisciplinary International Health major was a perfect fit for Busse.
“Although it is a science degree … it also gives students the opportunity to study some social sciences,” Busse says, adding that this element of the major is significant.
An international internship is one of the International Health major’s most beneficial requirements. It provides graduates with valuable experience in the field and a significant advantage on graduate school applications and for employment opportunities. Busse discovered an opportunity to intern in Bolivia that would allow him to earn credit towards the internship requirement while completing his Spanish degree. The organization Sustainable Bolivia paired him with a smaller local organization (Vivir Con Diabetes) in Cochabomba, Bolivia. Busse worked with the education and prevention department of the organization, which offers educational services to members of the community diagnosed with diabetes.
Under the supervision of an educator, a social worker and a psychologist, Busse constructed surveys, educated newly diagnosed patients about diabetes management, promoted education sessions offered at the facility, and gathered and analyzed data from blood glucose levels of patients he visited. His experience allowed him to develop skills that will be invaluable for future study and fieldwork.
“It forced me to be creative and develop initiative to create some of my own projects that would be useful to myself and the organization.”
Busse is planning to use the knowledge gained at Bethel to pursue a graduate degree in global health.
“My career from this point forward will be mostly in the field of public health … I’m hoping to study epidemiology, which is essentially the study of [the] spread and prevention of disease.”
He has applied and been accepted into a number of Public Health master’s programs in epidemiology, including the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Pittsburg, University of Washington, and Emory University. He plans to attend the University of Michigan in the fall; its Public Health program is ranked No. 4 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report (behind Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill).
Government agencies and non-profit organizations actively seek graduates of Public Health programs. However, the International Health program is a great choice for students interested in other paths, too, including medical missions, medical school and global health education.
Bethel recently partnered with Indiana Wesleyan University to provide a 4-1 program in which students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. Participants will begin the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at IWU during their senior year in Bethel’s International Health program. For more information, visit BethelCollege.edu/biology-chemistry.