Graduating Former President of Natural Sciences Council Reflects on Public Health at UT

May 6, 2024 • by Sowmya Sridhar

A Longhorn EMT and honored graduate, Arvind Subramanian looks back on lessons from his Texas Science major.

An image of Arvind Subramanian.

Arvind Subramanian headshot

You serve as President of the Natural Sciences Council (NSC, the college’s student government organization). Has what you’ve learned through your major, public health, inspired you to start any initiatives in NSC?

When I think about public health, I think of advocacy and how you can serve as a voice for those who need it, especially vulnerable populations. I work as an EMT, so emergency response has been on the back of my mind for a long time. I’m particularly passionate about instilling bystander confidence and making sure that people are equipped in basic life-saving skills.

One of the things I was able to do with the Natural Sciences Council was advocate for a piece of legislation that we wrote calling for the creation of a map of the AEDs on campus. I was able to work with the Office of Emergency Management to create this map and figure out ways in which we can equip bystanders with those resources. In the event of a cardiac emergency, bystanders can access this digital resource to hopefully save a life.

How has your major shaped your experience at UT?

There was so much hands-on learning and interdisciplinary education I got with public health. It’s made me a more well-rounded student to be able to enter that real world and tackle my future academic journey and career goals.

 In my health policy class, we were able to learn about the different kinds of agencies that exist within our local, federal and state governments and then put that into practice. For example, I wrote a policy paper investigating the need for effective public health policies and some of the interventions for improving the survival outcomes for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. 

What would you say to high schoolers potentially interested in majoring in public health?

I would definitely recommend this major to any high schooler. It’s one thing to learn things in a textbook…to sit in lectures and read through everything. But it’s another thing to actually be able to experience it. You also learn a lot of life skills, and one of the key skills I got out of my degree was cultural competency. For example, I took a class called Global Health in Action, where I worked with a nutritional rehabilitation center in Guatemala. It was interesting to see how they handled their medical records and their patient care. It’s that well-rounded aspect of it that a public health education equips you with. 

How has the degree been a stepping stone for your future? 

I’ll be going to medical school next year, pursuing an M.D./M.P.H. at UT Southwestern in its dual degree program. Throughout my four years at UT, I’ve developed a passion for patient care, policy and public health. In my career as a future physician, I want to continue to be focused on health policy and seeing ways in which we can improve health care for marginalized and vulnerable communities. I want to focus on the preventative aspect of public health as well. 

 Public health is one of those fields where you don't necessarily have to be pre-health. You see people that are going into all kinds of spaces. I know seniors that are going into graduate school with public health. I know people are going into law or planning to work in NGOs and the nonprofit sector. The major is so widespread, and it gives a platform for everyone to be successful. 

Arvind Subramanian is scheduled to deliver remarks at the 4 p.m. commencement ceremony for the College of Natural Sciences on Saturday


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