HawkPride: McNair Scholar pursues career in public health
HFC alumna Sara Elhasan is a first-generation American and a first-generation college student.
The eldest of two, Elhasan – who was recently profiled by her alma mater, Wayne State University – was dual enrolled at HFC while attending Fordson High School in Dearborn. She graduated from both HFC and Fordson in 2016.
“HFC gave me opportunities to explore college classes in various disciplines and gain credits to transfer to a 4-year university,” said Elhasan, a lifelong Dearborn resident. “The professors there were kind and supportive. I enjoyed the intimate class size. I met some really nice people from varying age groups and walks of life.”
Among her favorite classes at HFC were Introduction to Psychology and Theatre Appreciation.
“I had to memorize a monologue and perform it in front of my peers in my theatre appreciation class – that was fun,” said Elhasan. “I really encourage other high school students to take advantage of dual enrollment opportunities. It has made a huge difference in my overall academic trajectory and helped me transition into college smoothly. I’m thankful to Dearborn Public Schools and HFC for supporting students like myself and setting us up for success.”
More self-driven and organized
Elhasan credits her time at HFC for her undergraduate success at Wayne State.
“I learned how to maintain a rigorous course load while balancing other responsibilities. I became more self-driven and organized, which is a crucial component of doing well in school,” she said. “I chose Wayne State because it is in the heart of Detroit and is a prominent research university with interdisciplinary courses and programs. My offer also came with a position in an undergraduate research program through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called ReBUILDetroit (a consortium of HFC, Wayne State, and the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), which has allowed me to conduct research and connect with people in the biomedical research field.”
In April, Elhasan graduated from Wayne State with honors. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public health (honors) and a bachelor’s degree in sociology (honors). While at Wayne State, she was in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College and the McNair Scholars Program.
“I was interested in the McNair Scholars Program due to their dedication to helping students from non-traditional backgrounds and disciplines pursue higher education and research,” she said. “They have an amazing reputation for being supportive of their students’ aspirations, and I was very eager to work with them and gain that guidance.”
Graduate school at U-M
This fall, Elhasan plans to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan (U-M), studying epidemiology, which focuses on the determinants of disease and other health factors in humans.
“I was initially interested in pursuing a pre-med track, but as I conducted research and connected with professionals in the field, I found I was more interested in a population-level approach to health care. Public health allows me to intersect my passion for research with helping communities achieve better health and wellbeing,” she said. “I hope to pursue a career in public health that allows me to bridge the gap between research and policy. Ideally, the work I do will inform evidence-based decision-making and will help us achieve a healthier, more equitable society.”
What better time to begin the study of public health than during a pandemic? Elhasan's future is bright.