Where Are They Now?
Nandi Taylor, MPH '17
"After graduating from the KU-MPH program in 2017 I began a fellowship with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through the ASPPH/NHTSA Public Health Fellowship program. As a fellow I work in the office of Behavioral Safety Research under the injury prevention division where I focus on gaining research experience and partake in training opportunities related to the field of traffic safety. Within the division, my main research areas are on topics related to seat belt use, young drivers, and distracted driving. The knowledge related to data analysis and public health theories/frameworks that I gained while a master's student, has been instrumental to my success in the fellowship.
My experience at the KU-MPH program provided the resources and mentorship I needed to develop a strong understanding of the field of public health and research. The program provided me with basic knowledge of epidemiology, data management, public health framework/theories and behavioral health. My concentration in Social and Behavioral Health provided an opportunity to acquire in depth knowledge of cultural competency, program evaluation and development, behavioral change theories and social determinants of health which is essential to my interests in health disparities and injury prevention. While a student, I was able to participate in research with faculty members as well as complete my internship at Wyandotte County Health Department which provided opportunities to further my skills and application of health programs in community settings gaining additional confidence to enhance my public health career. My experience at the KU-MPH program fostered long lasting relationships with classmates and faculty as well as a love for the field of public health that will be essential to my future endeavors. My recommendation to future students is to get involved and participate in every aspect of the program, inside or outside of the classroom, with faculty and classmates. The relationships you form while in the program will help you continue to learn and build the networks essential to help you along your public health career."
Ruaa Hassaballa, MPH '18
"I'm a Graduate Research Assistant and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the KU Center for Community Health and Development. As a 2018 graduate of the MPH in epidemiology, the skills gained from the program prepare me for my current roles as a researcher on projects while pursuing a Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology with a concentration in community health and development. I'm interested in how identity and culture shape building healthy communities. In my role as Graduate Research Consultant & Teaching Assistant, I advise undergraduate students on their projects in the course, "Building Healthy Communities." Currently, I'm supporting a health equity project focused on employment opportunities for people living in public housing, and am working on a sexual violence prevention project as part of a team across Johnson, Douglas and Finney Counties. The MPH program taught me data analysis, writing, community engagement, and strategic planning skills. In additions, the research skills learned while working on the MPH prepared me for the rigorous work of the Ph.D. program.
I have a vision of giving back to my communities through the social-justice lens of public health. The MPH program's highlights of the social determinants of health enable me to understand community needs through various methods such as focus groups. At the MPH program, I joined the Global Health Council as a student and served as a Global Health Council Delegate at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. My role as Graduate Research Assistant with the Kansas Public Health Association provided me with hands-on public health experience around the state. In my final year of the KU-MPH program, I received the national APHA Council of Affiliates Outstanding Student of the Year Award. These opportunities have encouraged and inspired me to continue work towards positively impacting the community. The faculty, students, and affiliates of the KU-MPH program have provided me with a rich environment for learning. My advice for students is to focus on what excites you, find a mentor, and seek opportunities outside the classroom that are out of your comfort zone. You never know what fantastic opportunity may arise!"
Mark Berry, MPH '04
"I'm the acting branch chief for strategic information at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), Uganda. I completed my MPH in 2004 when there were no concentrations but my MPH prepared me with the basics in epidemiology, statistics and public health framework/administration knowledge that I use every day. Most importantly, it taught me the value of a good working environment by working for wonderful advisors and supervisors and how to work within a team because I worked with great classmates and coworkers as part of my research project. I came in completely green and unsure of myself; however, KUSM-Wichita inspired in me a love of public health. I would have failed in almost any other place but the nurturing environment of KUSM-Wichita is the primary reason I have accomplished my dreams of getting a PhD in Epidemiology and working for the CDC in Africa as well as my current location in Uganda.
My suggestions for a student obtaining a concentration in epidemiology is to learn about teamwork, project management and take as many skills building courses in lieu of survey courses. It's better to learn epidemiology methods than facts about infectious diseases or chronic diseases. Also, try to work with Dr. Elizabeth Ablah, if possible - you will learn something from her."
Jan 25, 2019