Virginia Barnes, MPH '10
"I am the Director or Blue Health Initiatives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. My role within the company is to work on initiatives that focus on improving long term health outcomes for Kansans through a community and population health focus.
I had the opportunity to receive a general public health MPH in 2010, which has served me very well. My degree and work experience has allowed for a broad array of work experiences across the public health field, including infectious disease, surveillance, preparedness, immunization, environmental health, and community health. I am able to draw from my education and background to help shape the initiatives that we support here at Blue Cross.
I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to have KU-MPH students intern for me at Blue Cross. It is great to get their fresh perspective on the work that we are doing, to pass on the knowledge I have gained over the past ten years, and to have the conversations about what the students are learning on our field currently. Since insurance companies are not a traditional employer for public health, it is exciting to introduce the students to a career opportunity that they may not have considered an option.
I will start my term on the KPHA Board of Directors in January 2019. I have served on the Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods Leadership Team since 2016. I was Chair in 2018 and currently I am serving as Past Chair. I have also been serving on the KU-MPH External Advisory Board, the Kansas Health Foundation's Kansas Healthy Food Initiative Advisory Board and KHF's Healthy Communities Initiative Advisory Committee."
Jennifer Duong, MPH '15
"I currently work at KUSM-W Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology as a Department Manager and Senior Research Associate.
I use much of my training in public health administration, as well as the skills I learned from my financial and human resource management classes in my role as an administrator. While wearing my research hat, I still continue to use the skills I learn from my biostatistics and epidemiology courses. When we are designing health interventions, I am able to apply knowledge from my cultural competency and social behavioral health classes. I use my degree and training every day.
I'm not afraid to seek out answers and ask questions. Much of my work is investigative-I am constantly seeking out an answer! I enjoyed working on my capstone with Dr. Lisette Jacobson, it taught me how difficult health program implementation can be, and the struggles of those working to improve the health of entire communities! So I know that in my every day role, changes do not happen overnight. The program taught me to create relationships with others, and to engage with stakeholders. Additionally, I gained a broader insight as to how social determinants of health really impact our community."
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."
Oct 17, 2019