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Reflecting on a Dornsife Education

Drew and his grandfather, a Drexel alumni
Drew Haigh, BS ’19, with his grandfather, Charles Charland, a Drexel College of Engineering alumnus who graduated on the same day 50 years ago.

July 18, 2019

From freshmen year to graduation day, a BS student recounts the highlights of his time at Dornsife.

When Drew Haigh, BS ’19, graduated on June 14, 2019, from the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH), it was a special day for not only him, but also the family members who stood by his side. His grandfather Charles Charland, a Drexel College of Engineering alumnus, graduated on the same day 50 years ago. 

“After posing for a photo together, my grandfather hugged me and told me how proud he was and that was a moment I'll never forget,” says Haigh. He was joined by his mother, father, grandmother, two younger brothers – one that happened to be graduating high school later that day in Bucks County, PA.

“My family's support has been absolutely incredible. I hope I'm able to be a positive role model for my two younger brothers. Without my family, I know for certain I wouldn't be the person I am today,” says Haigh.

Haigh’s passion for public health began in an epidemiology course during his freshmen year with Thersa Sweet, PhD, MPH, associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at DSPH. A former biology major, he chose to switch his course of study before sophomore year began. “Dr. Sweet’s class is where I learned that public health would be the best career to really have an impact on people’s health,” he says. In particular, he became interested in infectious disease prevention and combating substance abuse, in part because of his connection to family.

During his junior year, Haigh lost a cousin to a drug overdose, compelling him to research and learn more about the opioid epidemic. “Having firsthand experience is pretty devastating, but it also gives me a better outlook on what people are going through,” he says.

“There is a lot of misinformation being spread throughout the United States that hinders the effects of harm reduction strategies,” says Haigh. “As public health professionals, it is our job to step up and counter this misinformation to save lives.”

Looking back on his time at DSPH, Haigh is thankful for the guidance he received from faculty, especially Jennifer Breaux, DrPH, MPH, CHES, assistant teaching professor in the department of Community Health and Prevention at DSPH. “Through the struggles and hard times, Dr. Breaux supported me throughout my senior capstone project, which was a case study on my cousin’s struggle with addiction,” he says. “I can't thank her, or any of the faculty, enough for their support and knowledge over the last few years.”

Haigh looks forward to working in the field of epidemiology or fighting the opioid crisis here in Philadelphia. “There is a lot to be done in the field of public health,” he says. After getting some work experience under his belt, he plans to eventually pursue an MPH degree.

Congratulations to Drew Haigh, BS ’19, and the Class of 2019!