The College of Public Health has welcomed five new faculty this fall who we want to introduce to the wider CPH community. Up this week is Dr. Marcus Dumas, who has joined the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior as an instructor.
What brought you to the field of public health?
I was in an Intro to Sociology course in undergrad and challenged with doing some informational interviews with people in the community. I constantly passed by a homeless guy every time I would walk to the West End MARTA station and this time decided to strike up a conversation with him. I found out this man was not just homeless but had a Ph.D. in English. He told me that his situation was attributed to life choices he had made and some unfortunate events. It made me wonder more about how our behavior affects our health and how society plays an impact on our health outcomes and access to resources. I did not know that I was interested in health education, health promotion, and health behavior because my college at the time did not have any public health classes. I wanted to learn more and eventually found out this passion I had was for the field of public health.
What excites you or motivates you about your research?
During my Ph.D. program, my research focus was on sexual health education for youth in middle school to young adults. I have had the opportunity to travel because my father was in the US Army, and through traveling both domestically and internationally, I have seen how sexual health curriculum is different between states and countries. As I began to do more volunteer work with adolescents and young adults, I found that they have many questions related to sex from understanding more about being safe in their practice to developing comfort in who they are, what they like, and how to best communicate their needs and desires. I believe that we as community leaders and stakeholders working with these youth must do a better job of developing curriculum that speaks to the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social aspects of sex and sexuality. I am interested in finding spaces where youth are more likely to go and think of new ways we can use those spaces to have open and honest dialogue about their wants, needs, and desires. I am motivated to do this research because I know that youth are searching for answers to many questions that I was searching for when I was growing up. I seek to be the person and resource I wish I had growing up.
How have you partnered with communities to improve health? Is there service or outreach work you’d like to do in Athens or Georgia?
Most of the partnerships I have formed have been in the metro-Atlanta community as I started my work in sexual health education during my graduate school years as a student in Atlanta. I do have some thoughts about doing some work with youth organizations in Athens that focus on the sexual health needs of students in Athens middle and high school along with learning more about the outreach work that the University Health Center does with the UGA student population as it relates to sexual health education. A major goal of mine is to do outreach work through health centers and health professional schools (i.e. medical, nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy, public health, etc.) that focus on training students on what their future career could look like as a health practitioner with a public health focus.
What are you looking forward to this Fall semester?
I am most excited about getting into the classroom to learn more about my students, some of whom I had as first-year students. Now, these students have declared a major in the College of Public Health and are getting close to graduation. I remember being in my last year of college and not knowing which direction I wanted to go with my education and career. I hope to be a wise counsel to these students and help them carve out what direction they want to go post-college. In addition, I am excited about the new courses I will get to teach and be able to add my unique skills and talents to the curriculum.
Last one -– what do you do for fun?
Ha, great question. I did myself a disservice by not having too much fun during my Ph.D. program as I had a goal to accomplish. But I do enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling to visit new places to try new cuisines, and volunteering to give back but also to meet new people. During my years in the Ph.D. program, I enjoyed breaking away from my work to hang out at Dave & Busters for a nice meal followed by playing games. Games are not just for young people; young adults enjoy games too.
Learn more about Dr. Dumas’s background, areas of expertise, and research interests in his faculty profile.
Posted on September 23, 2021.