It is a widely accepted belief that earning a graduate degree increases employment and career advancement opportunities for job seekers. At the same time the pursuit of a graduate degree often creates a financial catch 22 when faced with the rising cost of tuition making higher education unattainable for many prospective students. With a strong belief in the benefits of public health, Barry and Janet Lang established The Barry and Janet Lang Scholarship to help students pursue a master of public health.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Langs have donated $75,000 to the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. This scholarship was matched with graduate tuition funding from the University of Arizona Graduate College. To date, the Barry and Janet Lang Scholarship has supported six students with comprehensive financial awards, fully funding two years of tuition and other significant educational expenses of the MPH program. The financial support ensures that the high cost of education does not deter promising students from earning a master’s degree.
“We are interested in public health because we place a high value on health and all of the benefits it brings to people. Healthy people experience a higher quality of life and are better equipped to succeed in life,” said Janet. “We believe health education is important so that the general population can learn how to prevent disease and live healthier lives.”
Looking to the future, the Langs will continue their support of public health students by contributing to the Joel Valdez scholarship fund that honors their friend who served as senior vice president for business affairs at the University of Arizona for 20 years before retiring in 2010. A total of two Joel Valdez Scholarships have been awarded for the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 academic years, providing funding for an incoming DrPH and MPH students.
Janet received a Master of Science degree in Child Development at the University of Arizona in 1972. She went on to teach child development and preschool education at Iowa State University and later returned to the University of Arizona where she taught child development and directed the laboratory preschool. She completed undergraduate and graduate work in business administration and worked in economic development and real estate investment sales prior to retiring in 1993.
As a first generation Mexican-American whose family struggled after migrating in the 1980’s, Luis Valdez (2012-14 scholarship recipient) is the first member of his family to graduate from college. The Lang scholarship allowed him to continue in the master’s program.
“I feel like I’ve found a home. College was never an option for me,” said Valdez who graduated in May of 2014 from the master of public health program with a concentration in health behavior and health promotion.
Yoshira Ornelas also graduated in May 2014. Her area of study was the Environmental Health Sciences program. She says the Langs are helping more than a single person, they have helped a family. Like Valdez, she is a first generation Mexican-American, and the first of four siblings to advance to a graduate degree.
“Not only have [they] made a difference in our lives, but a difference in the future of public health,” said Ornelas.
Both Valdez and Ornelas are now pursuing doctoral degrees.
“These students go on to careers in public health, and will help people in our country, and others, to live healthier lives,” said Janet.