Hannah Gjertson

hannah in wellness center

Hannah Gjertson ’18

Biology, biomedical ethics, and anthropology

DeForest, Wisconsin

Strzelczyk Family Scholarship

Life After Lawrence: Master of Science in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


Two faculty members have been really influential in my experience at Lawrence. I started taking courses from Brenda Jenike, the Edward F. Mielke Professor of Ethics in Medicine, Science and Society and Associate Professor of Anthropology, on medical anthropology; that was how I started to develop the academic theory behind public health. Almost by chance I took a class on biomedical ethics from Ingrid Albrecht in the philosophy department, and that just springboarded my interest. Using an ethical framework to understand why things are the way they are really was an a-ha moment for me.


I received funding from the Betty Heistad Barrett M-D '55 Fund for Excellence in Civic Service which allowed me to do an internship working with the state of Wisconsin, my first real exposure to on-the-ground public health. I worked on a team of epidemiologists looking at issues around maternal and child health. I took that experience and ended up making it the topic of my Senior Experience, looking at maternal mortality. I’ve also worked with the nurse all four years at Lawrence, which really helped me connect both with students and with the public health and wellness side of Lawrence.



“Every year, there has been some form of generosity that has helped propel me to another opportunity.”



I decided I want to pursue public health, so I’m going to graduate school. I fell in love with London during my time at London Centre, and one of the best public health schools in the world happens to be there, so I’ll be pursuing my Master of Science in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

People always talk about community when they talk about Lawrence, and it really is a place that fosters growth in individuals. Lawrence was important to my academic development, but it was also important to my interpersonal development. In these small classes with my peers, talking to professors one-on-one, those were communication skills I developed, critical thinking skills, and it really forced me to be present in everything I do. I feel lucky in a lot of ways because I can major in a hard science, have two minors and study abroad, all in four years. That is something Lawrence promotes as a community—people don’t push you to do those things, but they push you to be interested in those things—and financial support makes all of this possible. One of the big reasons I came to Lawrence is because it was affordable to me. I’ve also had opportunities like funding for my internship and a scholarship to study abroad—I wouldn’t have been able to do so without it.

Every year, there has been some form of generosity that has helped propel me to another opportunity.





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