Peter Pham, winner of the Healthline Stronger Scholarship, explains how family and community can help fight climate change.
Peter has been trying to address the climate crisis and the Pandemic since he was a young man.
He helped with two studies on vaccines for kids. He is a board member of a climate action nonprofit for youth and a pro-environmental political action committee.
“He was one of the Santa Clara County’s 2021 redistricting commissioners and he was able to shine a light on community health needs and environmental concerns.”
In each of these roles, I have been able to serve the public good, and I am committed to continuing that in my career, says the University of California, Berkeley student.
He wants to become a doctor and a public servant. He would be able to continue tackling climate change and health concerns from a variety of angles in hopes of making a long lasting change.
I hope to care for people and serve in roles that will benefit the community and help build a better society, says Pham.
He talked about his studies, goals, and obstacles. Here is what he had to say.
The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
During the California Camp Fire in 2018, I was interested in public health and environmental biology. Smoke from 200 miles away covered my home city.
The college administration canceled classes for me as I was about to take my cell biology class. My mother had to leave work that day because she was coughing so much.
It was a reminder of how the environment can affect our health.
This memory shows the importance of understanding the intersection of human health and the environment from the point of view of the system at large.
My work is divided into three different categories. There is some overlap.
The San Francisco Bay Area regional COVID-19 surveillance study is one of the most memorable projects I have worked on.
I was able to help our country understand who is most at risk of the disease, how it is spread, and what it takes to recover from it. I was able to help get vaccinations ready for children.
I am a board member of two organizations in the environmental category, Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action (SVYCA) and the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters.
The organization is a youth-led nonprofit that trains and empower young people to educate their communities about climate change. We are trying to get pro-environment candidates elected at the local level, because the SCC LCV is a political action committee.
“I was one of the Santa Clara County’s 2021 redistricting commissioners.”
As the electoral district maps were redrawn, I was able to provide input on community health needs and environmental concerns. Redistricting was one of the most challenging and rewarding work I have ever done.
Staying patient is the main obstacle. It takes commitment to see solutions for the problems in the world.
My relationships with family and friends help me stay grounded. They remind me to stay true to myself and to remember the reasons why I am doing this work.
It involves a lot of delayed gratification, and it feels challenging when it is.
Climate change and health are close to home for me.
The climate crisis and the Pandemic are two issues that are part of the most pressing challenges of our time. Every year, my home state of California experiences violent fires.
Financial and cultural barriers have made it difficult for my family, neighbors, and community members to get care for their diseases.
I understand the importance of having clean air and water, which we often take for granted, to keep our bodies healthy.
Find your village.
“If you want to live your truth through love, support you even if they don’t fully understand your struggle, and work with you toward a higher good, you need to build meaningful relationships and turn to people who can help.”