Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith

Public health is the art and science of preventing suffering.

What does public health mean to you?

Public health is the art and science of preventing suffering. The amount of pain and hardship that could be prevented through public health interventions is enormous. No one should have to hurt unnecessarily. Public health can limit pain.

Why did you choose to study Public Health at WVU?

I chose to study Public Health at WVU because I am given the opportunity to dive deeply into my passions. My work focuses on early childhood adversity and the opioid epidemic and I am supported in my research and academic endeavors in these areas and can directly help the state. Not many schools can offer you renowned faculty who can provide specialized attention to your needs. The faculty and staff at the School of Public Health have become my family because of the care and support provided by them.

Have any particular faculty members made an impact on you while at WVU?

The list is never ending! Dr. Megan Smith has been a role model for me since day one, and she has continued to mentor me. Her passion for her work and commitment to students is unmatched. She is the person who sparked my love for research. Dr. Brumage believed in me enough to let me design and conduct a research project based on my specific interest. His energy and dedication in the field of adverse childhood experiences inspires my drive. Dr. Danielle Davidov has afforded me great opportunities to do unique qualitative research and is a fabulous mentor and teacher. Scot McIntosh has been a support system I never knew I could have in college. He is always there! He is my cheerleader on my roughest days, never failing to believe in me. Lastly, Dr. Alfgeir Kristjansson has been invested in my journey for a long time. He provides me with advice on my career trajectory and pushes me to be a better researcher. The faculty here are supportive and understanding. They show you that you can and will become the professional you want to be.

What would you tell future students about WVU and the School of Public Health?

The School of Public Health is a family of supportive faculty who can guide you to your dreams. Whether it's research, medicine, nursing or law, they are here to cater to you! Always remember that the healthcare field is more than hands-on clinical care.

What advice would you give to your freshman self?

I would tell my freshman self that "perfection is the enemy of good." At WVU you are giving so many opportunities to learn, do not doubt yourself or be afraid to try new things because you are unsure about them. Also, I would say never stop networking, the more people you know the better your journey will be.

What do you plan to do upon completion of your degree?

Upon completion of my PhD, I would like to be an academic researcher who focuses on adverse childhood experiences and improving the lives of children with parents who misuse substances.

What type of research have you conducted at WVU?

At the School of Public Health, I am involved in many research projects! The projects I've worked on include Early Adversity Among Female Substance Users, Intimate Partner Relationships and High-Risk Substance Use Behavior, Negative Life Events and School Connectedness on Positive Identify Formation, and the ICE Project. Being part of these projects has allowed me to explore my passions and gain research skills that undergraduates normally do not obtain.

Tell us about your experience as a first-generation student.

Being a first-generation student means being unsure, scared and even awkward at times, but pushing through it anyway. You are beating the odds, so there is not a plan for you to follow. Therefore, it is important to learn to ask for help. Having to ask for help has been a great benefit to me as it has connected me with great professional and support resources. Before coming to WVU, I wish I would have known that my plan did not need to be the same as everyone else, that if I changed my mind or learned something new about myself, I could incorporate it into my education. There is not one perfect plan, but there is a plan that will be perfect for you!

What's your favorite...

  • Book: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  • TV Series: Game of Thrones, Outlander and The Crown
  • Music Genre and Artist: Rap. I love Cardi B and Lil Baby.
  • Place You’ve Visited: Naples, Italy. It is my favorite because it is very authentic and genuine and much less tourist activity. You have a rich experience every time you are there.
  • Thing to do when you’re not doing schoolwork: If I am not doing school work I am shopping or napping!

Read more about Brittany

October 28, 2019: Public Health undergraduate student presents research at international summit

June 7, 2019: Undergraduate student shares public health research on international stage

April 26, 2019: WVU Public Health student puts passion to work through research and advocacy

March 31, 2019: Student heads to D.C. for advocacy summit