Where are they now?
Tammie Smith, MPH
Tammie L. Smith covers health topics and general assignment for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She has been at the paper since 2000. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Virginia Public Health Association.Both she and photographer Eva Russo were honored recently by being awarded the 2012 Julian C. Metts Jr. Humanitarian of the Year Award by the World Pediatric Project for their coverage of conjoined twins, Maria and Teresa Tapia.
Read the article here.
Conschetta Wright, MPH
Since graduation, I've almost completed a year as a CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow. I'm working in El Paso, Texas at the Texas Department of State Health Services Region 9/10 Office and the CDC El Paso Quarantine Station. This is a unique placement because I work at both state and federal organizations. This experience has given me a better perspective on how public health functions at these levels.
Most of my work focuses on binational health issues including tuberculosis, influenza, and foodborne/waterborne diseases. I have had several opportunities to meet and work with Mexican public health professionals. My "public health" Spanish is improving rapidly! I do miss the east coast, but I'm enjoying all the various sites and sounds of the Southwest.
Stuart Hutter , MPH
I have been with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) for nearly 5 years working as a District Epidemiologist. I started in the Piedmont Health District in Farmville, VA, before transferring to the Chickahominy Health District in Ashland, VA. As a District Epidemiologist (“epi”), I have been in charge of conducting surveillance and case or outbreak investigations on infectious diseases that are reportable to VDH. In 2009, I was given the opportunity to assist the District of Columbia Department of Health with enhanced surveillance during the Presidential Inauguration. Later that year, I found myself nose-deep in H1N1 pandemic influenza-related activities. There is never a dull moment in the epi field!
I graduated from VCU in 2006. I wanted to enter the public health arena specifically for infectious disease epidemiology, but prior to attending VCU I only had a biology background. My time at VCU definitely prepared me for my career as an epidemiologist. The introductory epidemiology course taught by Dr. Saba Masho was extremely helpful. The nuts and bolts of VDH outbreak investigations involve statistics like odds ratios and scientific procedures such as following the ten steps of outbreak management. I attribute a lot of my epi knowledge to that intro class!
Jennifer Barber, MPHI grew up in Newport News, Virginia and earned my Bachelor of Health Sciences degree with a focus in Public Health Education from James Madison University. While my interests in public health began in health education and promotion, at VCU I was able to explore a wide variety of public health fields. For instance, my work as a Graduate Assistant for VCU's Wellness Resource Center, enabled me to target my health education and promotion experience towards improving the health of the campus community. Also, I furthered my public health experience with an internship at the Richmond City Health District during the H1N1 pandemic. In this position, I also gained invaluable experience working to establish community health resource centers in underserved communities. I loved working with such a diverse population that truly appreciated the health department services.
VCU’s MPH program provided so many unique opportunities to get involved with the surrounding community. Students had opportunities to engage in true, grassroots public health such as the MCV community health fair or neighborhood service projects. As President of the Public Health Student Association, I worked closely with the faculty to develop programs to enhance the student experience. We had a fun group of students who worked well together in and outside of the classroom, frequently enjoying study groups at Panera and dinners out in Carytown. The networking experiences were also phenomenal, from meeting with representatives at the Virginia General Assembly to one-on-one discussions with the Virginia Health Commissioner. The professors took the time to get to know you outside of the classroom, allowing a mutual sharing of experiences and interest in the promotion of public health.
The networking and leadership experience has certainly prepared me for a career in the field. I am now working for the Navy at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center. Our department is branching out, working to improve clinical processes and care throughout the Navy facilities. I utilize health communication, epidemiology, and policy skills from the MPH program almost every day as I work to synthesize epidemiologic and health information for dissemination across the country. I continue to keep in contact with professors from the department and enjoy reminiscing about my time at VCU.