Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health?
• The second phase of my undergraduate internship allowed me to lead the agency’s (Alabama Department of Public Health) men’s health initiative, which included the statewide distribution of men’s health kits to all county health departments and a symposium at Alabama State University. I also served as a panelist alongside a regional director and senior advisor to the HHS secretary during the Men's Health: The Road to High Quality Health Care Satellite Conference and Live Webcast.
• Being an AmeriCorps VISTA and helping organizing a leadership development conference for youth participating in a substance abuse prevention summer program.
• More recently, I was able to present at the National Summit on Smokeless Tobacco in Sacramento, CA and share how Project C.H.A.T. Oklahoma is providing critical point-of-sale data to guide the selection of tobacco control priorities and evidence-based strategies that will benefit youth engagement, prevention of youth access, and cessation efforts. It was my first national conference presentation and first time in California.
• Meeting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D. at the United States Public Health Service Symposium.
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
I provide technical assistance to business owners or community members who need assistance making their tobacco-free policy stronger, and share the resources available through the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. I also develop factsheets and presentations about topics such as the dangers of youth e-cigarette use and
facilitate youth and adult trainings about the value of youth engagement, how to collect tobacco marketing information in retail settings, or general opportunities for communities to shape the environments they care about the most.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Working with youth and young adults…Every summer I am able to attend a few summer camps and it gives me the opportunity to turn formal presentations about tobacco prevention into interactive activities. This is also my first time having an intern work with me on projects, so it’s somewhat a full circle experience because I was the intern not too long ago.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Hearing the stories of how tobacco use and exposure has impacted families. There’s so much work that still needs to be done but not always enough funding and other resources to do it.
If someone was interested in a public health career (or one in your field), what advice or encouragement would you give them?
• Be open minded about public health career options and the different paths that will help get you there.
• Don’t turn your nose up to opportunities because they seem small or aren’t high profilel; those opportunities can provide great connections (possible mentors) who are willing to invest in providing you a quality experience.
• Invest time in finding at least two mentors. In addition to learning more about public health career options, ask them to help you develop your professional portfolio and resume. You never know when someone will want to see examples of your work and having the insight of someone in the field always helps.