Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine Student Hosts Weekly Public Health Radio Show

by David Roston

Students of Public Health focuses on research projects and other contributions students are making to advance public health. This series is guest edited by Johanzynn Gatewood, an MPH candidate in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Florida-Gainesville [Full bio].

WHIV LogoSTUDENT VOICES — When I was typewriting poems on the streets of New York City and selling commissioned paintings for clients in Los Angeles, I was unaware that my passion for the arts would lead me to the field of public health. Perhaps this is why I bring such an unconventional approach to difficult health challenges.

As a child, I aspired to make meaningful films and later received a BA from the University of Michigan in Screen Arts & Cultures. My experiences documenting Rotary International projects in Latin America and biomedical breakthroughs for the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group inspired me to pursue a masters degree in public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Although I may be the only documentary filmmaker in the classroom, I see my creative skills and media background as tools to improve the health status of individuals, families, and communities.

My interests in media and public health were further galvanized when I met Dr. Mark Alain Dery, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Tulane University. His mission to use grassroots community radio to educate and entertain listeners about public health, human rights, and social justice inspired me get involved. When Dr. Dery offered me a position to discuss public health topics on the airwaves, I accepted immediately. Today, Dr. Dery is one of my key role models, a public health professional who is pioneering new methods for confronting public health issues.

David and Dr Dery

David Roston and Dr. MarkAlain Dery, co-founder of WHIV FM

On my radio program, NOLA Matters: The Public Health Radio Hour, I incorporate topics
surrounding social justice within the field of public health, such as health equity and health as a human right. My program offers a platform for members of the community to discuss their initiatives, research, and activism. By navigating discussions on such local topics as healthy food access, homelessness, cancer risk factors, and affordable housing, I am constantly learning about new organizations while advocating for necessary change in the community of New Orleans. I have interviewed a wide range of guests, from doctors to urban farmers, directors of non-profits to restorative practitioners, and even a hospital-performing clown. Since public health encompasses seemingly endless elements of our lives, there is no shortage of concepts to dissect.

While my roots stem from Los Angeles, I feel a stronger connection to the city of New Orleans. The amount of creativity and collaboration occurring here creates an opening for such a volunteer-driven radio station to not only exist but thrive. This city is burden by an array of public health concerns, and I feel inclined to help however I can. Every one of us has a different perspective on the world, and the more we can collaborate and incorporate innovative ideas to confront health challenges, the greater our successes may be.

David with Imani and Bryan

Roston with Imani Jacqueline Brown and Bryan Lee, Jr from Blights Out, a local organization which educates and advocates for affordable housing.

Although some topics discussed on the program are often serious, others are fun. I strive for the show to be entertaining, educational, and enjoyable. I weave music and humor into the conversation to keep listeners engaged, whether they are stuck in traffic or streaming live across the world. I hope to continue developing strategies for WHIV to expand its reach and impact. Media is a tool which can be used to build bridges and possibly save lives. If I can combine my passions with effective means for creating change, I would consider this a huge victory. You can tune to http://www.whivfm.com/ to stream our insightful programming.

My advice to future public health students is to follow their passions, practice inclusion, and keep an open mind. I also encourage them to stay curious and hungry for knowledge. Each moment of our lives carries a lesson to be learned.

For further reading, consider these related articles from the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:*

*Articles may require a subscription to JPHMP or purchase.

David Roston photo

David Roston

David Roston is a first-year MPH candidate at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He is concentrating in Health Education and Communication. David was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.