News & Stories
Will Bannister
February 2, 2022

Building a Public Health Career on Berry’s One Health Program and Community Service

Will Bannister ’22, a biochemistry major with a minor in One Health, is excited about his future — combining rigorous training in the sciences and service opportunities at Berry to carve out a career working with underserved populations. In the next step of his journey, he will attend Brown University to earn a dual degree Master of Public Health and Master of Public Affairs. “After graduate school, I hope to either work with agencies like the International Rescue Service or non-profits in developing policies and programs that benefit marginalized communities,” he says. “Long-term, I hope to also go to medical school and work to make policies and give care to underserved populations.”

Berry had been on Will’s radar since his brother’s graduation in 2012. The addition of the One Health program sealed the deal. One Health is a trans-disciplinary approach — at the local, regional, national and global levels — that seeks to achieve optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnections between humans, animals, plants and their shared environment. “Even before coming to Berry, I knew I wanted to pursue a One Health degree to learn about how every factor — from animals and the environment to socio-economic status — might affect our health,” Will explains.

While making the most of opportunities to flourish as a scientist, including two years as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs, Will has embraced service to others with passion: “This year, I have also been able to be one of the senior interns for the Bonner Scholars Program, a paid leadership role where I have developed my leadership and worked with a program that has been vital to my Berry experience.”

For the past four years as a Bonner Scholar, Will has engaged with the The Davies Shelters, a local organization that helps clients develop the tools and skills to overcome homelessness — offering shelter, training and solutions to food insecurity. This endeavor includes a 2-acre community farm in South Rome and a mobile farmers market called the Davies Farm Bus (a school bus converted to its current use by Berry students).

Will is focusing his Honors thesis on meeting a practical need for The Davies Shelters: using academic research to measure and improve the organization’s success: “I had known that the Davies Shelters recently started a Farm Bus program that focused on relieving food deserts by bringing produce directly to suffering neighborhoods. I also knew that they had no data on actual program efficacy. This led me to the idea that I could help serve the shelters by creating a way to measure program efficacy to make better programming to serve food desert populations.”

Like many Berry students, Will is serving with his heart, head and hands and fulfilling the legacy of founder Martha Berry: "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Fittingly, he recently received the 2022 Martha Berry Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement Award.

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