Brianna Burns poses with Zambian children while helping to educate Zambian youth on disease prevention.
A 2008 graduate of Wapakoneta High School has been more places by the age of 21 than many people go in their whole lives.
As she sees it, however, she is just getting started.
Brianna Burns, a fourth-year student at Indiana Wesleyan University, is studying for a degree in biology for a pre-med requirement. She will graduate this April. She has been accepted to several graduate schools to seek her master’s degree in public health and has put Emery University, the University of Michigan and Pittsburgh University near the top of her list.
Already in her studies, Burns has had two extended stays in Zambia.
In her first trip to the Southern African country she worked in a small village and aided with HIV and malaria testing and did some immunizations with mothers and babies.
In her more recent trip, she went with the World Hope Organization and primarily used her time educating in the schools for prevention of HIV and other diseases. While her studies have taken her other places, it was these two trips that nudged her into going into public health as a profession.
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“I hadn’t really thought about public health until I took that second trip,” Burns said. “It’s a growing field, and I like being able to study a whole population.”
Burns, who ranked fifth in her graduating class, is leaning towards starting her career working with a non-profit organization or working with the Center of Disease Control (CDC) when she is finished with her schooling, and she said she felt her goals were achievable.
“I am very excited doing this kind of work,” Burns said. “I like to help people and I am directly helping their lives in a positive way.”
In her rare spare time, Burns said she likes to run, do crafts, scrapbooking and photography.
Burns is the daughter of Julie and Brad Burns of Wapakoneta. She also has two brothers, Isaac, 19, and Keith, 17.