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Champions For Learning Alumnus Finds Success as a Public Health Professional

Bensey Pierre-Louis

Bensey Pierre-Louis graduated in 2016 from one of the very first classes of Champions For Learning’s College and Career Preparation Program. Currently, he is an Orise Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he works as a public health analyst. In his role, Bensey coordinates leadership development, project management, and strategic planning in the chronic disease and public health sector. He leads with a passion for educating the public about disease prevention and promoting healthy habits.

In high school, however, Bensey had once struggled to find his voice and discover his future path. As an only child of parents who had immigrated to the United States, he lacked direction and guidance when it came to figuring out his plans after graduating from high school. He knew he wanted to continue his education but did not have the confidence or resources to navigate the complicated college enrollment process.

When he was introduced to the College and Career Preparation Program by his high school guidance counselor, Bensey was excited about the opportunity to have tailored instruction to prepare him for his future goals. Little did he know at the time that Champions For Learning would not only provide a wide range of college-readiness experiences, including how to apply for scholarships, SAT and ACT preparation courses, campus tours, and FAFSA completion; but also instill a newfound sense of self-confidence within him.

Many of Champions For Learning’s students have never had someone foster high personal expectations or self-efficacy within them. Workshops focused on leadership and foundational skills development are incorporated throughout program, covering relevant topics such as networking, financial literacy, goal setting, and personal branding, all of which are valuable skills for a student like Bensey, who was the first in his family considering college.

“Champions For Learning recognized my potential,” he said. “They believed in me, and because of that, I began to believe in myself. I realized I had the strength to accomplish anything.”

Through the College and Career Preparation Program, Bensey discovered his voice, which would lead him down so many new and exciting paths. Although he originally thought he wouldn’t leave home to attend college, he was inspired to broaden his college search. Bensey ultimately enrolled at the University of Florida (UF), where he received his bachelor’s degree in health education.

When he began his undergraduate education, Bensey first studied in UF’s Pre-Physician Assistant Program and was interested in helping underserved communities treat chronic diseases. However, through a series of rigorous internships, including spending one month in a Ghana hospital and earning a full ride into a Columbia Public Health internship through the CDC, he learned more and more about social determinants of health and how prevention and education play key roles in improving the health of individuals and entire communities. Through his experience with the CDC, Bensey committed to a future in the public health sector and pursued a master’s degree in public health at Emory University, with a concentration in global health and community health development.

At the CDC, Bensey is now helping enact meaningful change from the local level all the way to the global scale. “What keeps me passionate about public health is the chance to help create healthier lives and communities,” Bensey said. “I get to work with individuals, communities, organizations to help them reclaim their well-being. Seeing them realize that they can live full, whole, healthy, and meaningful lives continues to inspire me.”

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