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CSU firsts: Public Health Forum on campus and 2011 graduating class

May 16, 2011
by Paul Miller

Around the time of the recent commencement ceremonies, Colorado State hosted two firsts through the Colorado School of Public Health program.

Master of Public Health graduate Sarah Jackson ('11) is using her degree to address a wide range of health issues in Colorado communities.
Public Health Forum on campus

For the first time, CSU was the site of capstone project presentations on May 6 by students in the Master of Public Health program. As part of the School of Public Health’s practice-based learning curriculum, the capstone gives MPH candidates the chance to present their projects on specific public health issues.

In addition to CSU, the Colorado School of Public Health includes the University of Colorado-Denver and University of Northern Colorado. The school provides training, research, and community service to actively address public health issues including chronic disease, access to health care, environmental threats, emerging infectious diseases, and costly injuries.

MPH presentations were held at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus on May 13.  

A special graduation day

Also on May 13, eight students graduated from CSU, making this the first group to receive diplomas in the master’s program.

“We have four students graduating in the top 25 percent of all MPH students at the Colorado School of Public Health,” says psychology Professor Lorann Stallones, director of CSU’s Graduate Degree Program in Public Health. “When the MPH students graduate, I’ll be reminded about how far the program has come since discussions began about having a multi-institutional school of public health in Colorado.

“I feel fortunate to have been involved in the program and am honored to have the opportunity to work with such dedicated and talented students and such committed faculty across the university.” 

Education at work

Although some graduating students may be searching for employment, Sarah Jackson, who discussed health guides for newly arrived refugees in Colorado for her capstone presentation, will continue a job she started in March as a healthcare-associated infectious disease epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Jackson credits her MPH experience in applying public health concepts and theories she learned in the classroom to a tangible project that will contribute to the health and well-being of the growing refugee population in Colorado.

At the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver, Jackson is part of a team of epidemiologists who investigate outbreaks in hospitals, long-term care facilities and dialysis centers; conduct surveillance on hospital-acquired infections; and perform special projects with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’m grateful to use my MPH to work for the health of the community in disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, and healthcare-associated prevalence studies,” she says.

Nicole Swaggerty's Public Health Forum presentation on May 6 involved community-based agriculture and food systems in Wheat Ridge, Colo. May 6 capstone presentations by MPH graduates

Global Health and Health Disparities

  • Sarah Drobek, issues in adolescent pregnancy
  • Meredith Dungar, mental health and substance abuse identification and intervention
  • Sarah Jackson, health guides for refugees in Colorado
  • Jamie Kleman, health needs assessment for South Sudan
  • Tiffany Lupcho, meningococcal vaccination impact on campus

Animals, People and the Environment

  • Nicole Swaggerty, community-based agriculture and food systems in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

Public Health Nutrition

  • Rachel Hurshman, surveys on non-participants in Thompson School District lunch programs

Health and Exercise Science

  • Heidi Nace, “Give-a-Watt” energy-harvesting bicycle event
  • Lorin Scott-Okerblom, parental refusal or delay for immunizations for children 
  • Brenna Wozniak, RamCycle resident assistant curricula and bicycle safety education

In addition, two MPH students received competitive internships and will travel abroad over the summer. Erica Borresen was awarded an internship with the World Health Organization in Switzerland, and Karrin Parker was awarded a competitive internship with USAID and will be in Uganda.

“These student projects are representative of the wide range of concentrations through the CSU program of the Colorado School of Public Health that are devoted to addressing public health issues that affect societies around the world,” Stallones says.

Colorado School of Public Health students and alumni assume careers with federal and local agencies, private hospitals and health care providers, international health agencies, research institutions, consulting firms, local business, and community-based organizations.

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