Michael Dark received a Master of Public Health from West Virginia University in 2013. He currently works as Coordinator of the Maryland Colorectal Cancer Control Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine/Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Michael participated in the 2013/2014 Student Network Mentorship Program as a mentee. In this Q&A, Michael shares some insights about his experience.
Why did you decide to explore public health law as a career?
I’ve been involved in the field of public health for a little while now but never experienced much of the legal aspect. I decided to apply to law school because I’ve always been fascinated by law and wanted to learn more about the field of public health law. I feel that obtaining a J.D. could help expand my role in this burgeoning field so that I could make an impact on policies that affect access to adequate healthcare.
Why did you decide to participate in the Student Network Mentorship Program?
When I first saw the opportunity to participate in the Student Network Mentorship Program I applied because I wanted more exposure to the field of public health law. Up until that point, I knew that I wanted to focus on this field but wasn’t sure what careers might be available to me or how to express my interest to law schools. I believed that the mentorship program would assist me in my endeavors by pairing me with a knowledgeable individual who was already working in this field.
How has your mentor, Chris, helped you throughout the past year?
Throughout the program, I’ve received excellent support and feedback from my mentor Chris. He treated me as his equal rather than a student and that helped us work well together on a few aspects of the application process for law school. Chris also had an “open door” policy and always welcomed contact if I needed his guidance or input. Writing a personal statement for law school was one of the hardest parts of my law application, but having Chris as a mentor really helped me hone my point of view. I also found it helpful that he received his J.D. and M.P.H. degrees separate from one another as I am trying to do. I was able to step into his shoes and truly benefit from his insights.
Can you provide tips for future participants in the program?
We live across the country from one another and that made it impossible to connect in person. This was a challenge, but we have been able to communicate easily by phone and email. It’s important for mentees and mentors to express what you expect from one another during the program, both in terms of scheduling and topics of discussion. This will make it easy to determine how to best utilize your mentor, and will give your mentor a chance to understand how he or she can assist you. A mentor can be a treasure trove of knowledge and can provide input on a lot of different topics such as resumes, applications, and career advice. Don’t be shy to reach out to your mentor; you never know what you might learn!
Learn more about the Student Network Mentorship Program and apply
The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state. This blog post does not represent the views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.