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MPH Candidate Bryce Takenaka Follows Passion to Public Health Career

Bryce Takenaka got the ball rolling on his public health career in an unconventional way.

Originally from Honolulu, Takenaka followed his talent and passion for bowling to St. Louis, while pursuing interests in health care related fields.

“Bowling brought me off the island to college. Through the sport, through the classes and the college experience, I was able to find public health,” he said. “It wasn’t bowling itself that drew me to public health but being an athlete and bringing those traits to the academics of public health.”

Bryce Takenaka
Bryce Takenaka (MPH 2022).

With bowling as the vehicle, Takenaka’s introduction to public health came through interest in other health care arenas while pursuing a bachelor's degree in public health.

“Becoming interested in public health, what it means to do research, how it is integrated with fieldwork, how we make systemic changes… all a ripple effect from just one class,” Takenaka said.

Takenaka, a second year Master of Public Health candidate, had an interest in community health that ignited his journey, but he first pursued nursing as an undergrad, which eventually led him to public health, causing him to pivot his career path down a different lane.

The spark to work on public health research as an undergraduate student at a local liberal arts university formed a foundation for continued interest in being part of research labs as a graduate student.

Through research, Takenaka has developed competencies in forming the proper questions to ask, having tools for data collection and using data to bring forth community change. His research experiences helped to foster newfound curiosity, prompting him to ask new questions and pursue new knowledge in the field of public health.

After completing his undergraduate degree and bowling career, Takenaka’s passion for research helped narrow down graduate programs. That’s when he found Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice.

His interest to incorporate research in his graduate experience drove him to form personal connections with faculty to grasp their research interests, as part of his search for the graduate program best for him. Beyond research, Takenaka was drawn to the community at the College as well as the larger community
in St. Louis.

“The St. Louis community is very diverse. It’s a really good place to study and practice public health, and to complement that - the faculty, the students, the larger network - everybody is really supportive,” Takenaka said.

The role the College has in the city made it a great place for him to study key public health concepts and practice the knowledge gained through courses, while gaining real life experiences.

During his time in the graduate program, he has tapped into his creative side and embraced it through his involvement in research labs, contributing to Saint Louis University's mission and vision.

“Working with people who are like-minded and have their own ambitions to foster social justice and health equity…It’s really special and draws me back to why I do what I do,” Takenaka said.

As Takenaka wraps up his time in the MPH program, he hopes to continue on his research journey, focusing on community practice and working on HIV implementation science research, with an interest of applying geospatial approaches to study overlaps that are present in the community.

After graduating from SLU with his MPH this spring, he will attend Yale School of Public Health as an NIMH T-32 Pre-Doctoral Fellow through the Yale AIDS Prevention Training Program (Y-APT) within the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA).

College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in public health and health administration.