What is the “unspoken cost” of leadership in a public health career? This was the question nine doctoral students from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health gathered to discuss in early April at their final meeting of the academic year. Hosted by the Incubator, the group has been meeting regularly over the past two years to discuss common themes in public health, share ongoing projects, and explore ideas for future engagements.
The April discussion raised tough questions: What are public health graduates willing to trade off or “sacrifice” for a leadership career, especially when trade-offs touch on concerns such as family care-taking or finances? How will gender, race, sexual orientation, marital status, or availability of network shape the challenges faced by this cohort of public health leaders? And informing all of these questions: how to envision leadership? What does it really look like?
The conversation was enriching—and timely, as some of the students now prepare to head off to their first summer immersion and others to their third-year capstone project— the DrPH “Doctoral Engagement in Leadership and Translation for Action” (DELTA) project, working in a nonprofit, governmental, or for-profit organization. The group plans to continue to learn from and support one another throughout their journeys and beyond Harvard, as a thoughtful and committed cohort of public health leaders.