Kate Sollee ’18, a biology major and environmental studies minor, plans to put her scientific background to good use as she pursues a career in public health—and it was one particular course she took during her time at Haverford that set her on the path there.
“A particular biology class, “Biology 200: Cell Structure and Function,” really spurred my interest [in this field],” she says. “We had been studying how sugar has a biochemical impact in animals that is remarkably similar to that of drugs like cocaine.”
It was this single piece of information that would inform all of Sollee’s future career decisions.
“I thought, if people knew that sugar was a drug—not in the sense of lighthearted jokes about how the urge for that glistening glazed doughnut in the window sure feels like the pull of an addiction—but actually a drug not all that different from an opioid, maybe attitudes would change,” she says. “Maybe people would no longer just shrug their shoulders. Maybe it would even spur the government to finally do something about sugar’s obvious and outsized contribution to the obesity epidemic gripping the nation and only seeming to get worse every year.”
Her mind set afire by this revelation, Sollee decided to pursue a career in public health policy law, which she characterizes as “the perfect way to use my technical [knowledge] and interest in molecular biology to help further public health policies that I’m convinced can help millions live longer, healthier, happier lives.” During her senior year of college, she applied—and was accepted into—the public health law program run jointly by the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There, she’ll earn both a J.D. and an M.P.H. over the course of four years. Set to begin her first semester this coming fall—and on a Dean’s Scholarship, a “full-tuition, merit-based award,” no less—Sollee’s looking forward to “delving deeper into the interactions between the fields of public health and law,” though she anticipates a heavy workload.
“During the first year of law school, the courses are so intense that students are not allowed to work without special permission,” she says. “For the fall semester, we attend classes five days a week and are required to take ‘Legal Analysis and Writing,’ ‘Civil Procedure,’ ‘Criminal Law’ and ‘Torts.’ I’ve heard from friends who are in law school now that the first year is only about school.”
But Sollee is undeterred by the workload.
“The academics will certainly be rigorous,” she says, “but I’m confident that Haverford has prepared me well.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.
Photo: Kate Sollee ’18 poses, mortarboard on, on graduation day. Photo courtesy of Kate Sollee ’18.