Jeremy Costin, 22, wants to make the world a better place.
That’s why he’s interested in global health economics, and why he’s pursuing a master’s degree in the subject at Johns Hopkins University.
Costin grew up in White Plains, N.Y., where he went to a Jewish day school and participated in United Synagogue Youth. He attended Johns Hopkins for his undergraduate degree and studied public health and economics.
During his time in Baltimore, he has been involved in Chizuk Amuno Congregation, where he taught as a Hebrew school teacher, and in Hopkins Hillel, where he was the gabbai for Conservative services.
Why are you studying global health economics?
Ever since I was young, whenever people would ask me what I want to do with my life, I’d always say that I want to make the world a better place, which I know is cliche, but that was just who I am and what I wanted to do. … I just [wanted] to do something that’s possibly going to impact the world. Then when I got to undergrad, I was thinking about doing environmental policy and then took this introduction to public health class kind of on a whim and realized in that class that this was just exactly what I wanted to do. It was very clearly helping people and also involving social aspects, [interacting] with other people, and also using some math and science.
What do you want to be able to do one day in this field?
That’s still something I’m figuring out. Right now, I’m debating between a few different things.
Has the pandemic had any effect on what you want from your career?
I feel like a lot of public health people would say yes, but for me, I don’t think that much. I think people around me acknowledge more that what I’m doing is going to be important. I don’t think it’s necessarily changed what I want to do per se, but I think that, especially early in the pandemic, everyone was like, “Oh, public health and economics. The two things everyone is talking about. You picked the right things to study.”
You spent some time last year as a contact tracer. How did that happen?
As many people did in the summer of 2020, I lost my job for the summer … so basically I found this opportunity. People there were hiring a lot of people for contact tracers, and since I have a public health background, they were interested in me. I applied and then I worked there for the summer for about three months, from the end of May until August in 2020. … I worked for New York state, and every state does things differently. Summer of 2020, a lot of it was contacting people who had traveled — New York state had travel restrictions at that time to certain states — so we called people who had traveled to certain states.
What does your Jewish identity mean to you?
For me, it constantly changes, but at this point, my Jewish identity means that I have a community. Wherever I am, I have a community of people who I know will bring me in, make sure I have a Shabbos meal or a place to go or people to meet.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?
Traveling. I wanted to travel after undergrad last summer, but obviously, the pandemic prevented that.