Holding a unique degree combination of Biology and Sociology gave Kathryn Henderson DeYoung ’07 the perfect chance to continue her education by obtaining a master’s degree in public health before being granted a two year fellowship opportunity partnered between the Center for Disease Control and the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists. However, this wasn’t the course that Kathryn planned when she first looked at Houghton.
Like many freshman Kathryn was unsure what she wanted to do with her degree once she finished her college career, “I didn’t have a lot of specific expectations when I was a freshman. I had a general idea that a college degree would allow me to have a satisfying and lucrative job, and I knew I liked biology but didn’t want to be a doctor. It took me a long time after college to figure out what I really wanted out of a career. I’ve finally reached ‘satisfying’ and accepted that lucrative isn’t for me.”
After graduation, Kathryn spent three years on a research project looking into HIV treatment and prevention among US teens. This small role is what ultimately motivated her to get her master’s degree and take on more responsibilities. The odd pairing of Biology and Sociology turned out to be a great combination to pursue a career in public health and infectious diseases. She explained that it was two sides of the same coin: looking into the health aspects of people getting sick and how to improve public health at a society/structural level. Upon completion of her degree Kathryn and her husband Jeff DeYoung ’07 moved to Denver, CO.
“I have a great job in a great workplace. I am very fortunate to be in a place with interesting work and people who trust me to take on new responsibilities in things I’ve never done before and then give me the support I need to make those things happen,” Kathryn said of her new position as an applied epidemiology fellow. “My last job wasn’t like this, so I am very grateful to be in a place where I can grow.”
This new position finds Kathryn working on projects tracking trends in diseases and helping come up with solutions. The outbreak and spread of pertussis (whooping cough) in Colorado has kept her busy as she tracks new cases, works to get the vaccines available and educating the community about pertussis. She is also working on a study which delves into how the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System is being executed in Denver.
Houghton, especially the Biology department, helped prepare Kathryn for a satisfying career. Through her four years at Houghton she learned the importance of working hard and getting things accomplished. Unlike large schools, she wasn’t lost in the crowd for she was able to get the support and help she needed to succeed from both her professors and peers alike.
“Houghton was a good environment for hard work and I think it gave me the confidence to keep taking on new challenges,” Kathryn stated.
“I think the most important lessons I learned in Houghton were about striving for excellence. When you commit to giving every important thing your best, it changes how you approach relationships with people and God, and how you think about your work.”