Public Health is all about the
community. It’s caring about people by educating them and promoting healthy
behavior. For Robert Salkowski ’12, caring about people is second nature. And
when he took Jhon Velasco’s Human Sexuality course, he knew he could make his
passion a career.
“I found something good for myself,” he said. “Professor Velasco’s class let me know Public Health is where I need to be.”
When Salkowski first enrolled at Montclair State, he was a Psychology major. After the first few classes, he wasn’t sure if that was the right major for him. A friend suggested that he check out Family and Child Studies, and he did – and loved it. As he took more classes, Salkowski pieced together the health aspect of the discipline and minored in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Studies.
Working with Health Promotion also spurred Salkowski’s interest in public health. He was part of Health Promotion all four years and became a Peer Advocate. Peer Advocates put on workshops, lead discussion groups, and provide education and referral services to the campus community. Campus involvement is key in the Family and Child Studies major. Students learn how to work with people, motivate groups and promote positive change, all skills they’ll employ later in their professional careers. Salkowski encourages any current Family and Child Studies major to get involved on campus. “Be part of the community,” he said. “Understanding the community is a must.”
Robert interned with Project COPE, an initiative run by the Family and Child Studies department that works to prevent HIV infection and substance abuse among Paterson’s youth. Dr. Katia Paz Goldfarb advised him through the internship, where he worked directly with at-risk teens.
“The internship is gonna set you apart. You learn the ins and outs of a field,” he said, describing his experience interning with Project COPE. “You really want to make the most out of it; show what you have, hopefully it becomes a career.” For Salkowski, it did become a career. Six weeks after starting with Project COPE, he was offered – and accepted – a position.
Salkowski plans to begin working on a Master’s degree in Public Health in Fall 2013. His goal is to work in HIV prevention and management among youth and adolescents and start a non-profit organization. He’d like to work with youth in and around his hometown of Belleville, NJ and become involved with local politics.
“I had a really good time on campus. Montclair State was definitely worth it,” Salkowski said.