Careers in Public Health Panel Recap

Careers in Public Health Panel, food and brain icons

Panelist Introductions

  • Daniel Morgan, BA: Zoning Administrator/Public Health Officer for Charlotte, recent graduate of UVM
  • Stephanie Busch, BS A-EMT: Injury Prevention Manager at State of VT Dept of Health working in emergency preparedness, injury prevention, and EMS
  • Jillian Leikauskas, MPH: Substance Abuse Program Evaluator at VT Dept of Health, alcohol and drug abuse program evaluator and grant manager
  • Jenney Samuelson, MS: Deputy Commissioner at Dept of VT Health, working with Medicaid, health reform, and the intersect between value-based payments and population health
  • Sally Kerschner, RN MSN: President of the Vermont Public Health Association, Vermont Department of Health nurse working in maternal and child health
  • Jan Carney, MD MPH: Associate Dean for Public Health, UVM College of Medicine, teaching public health and policy, previous health commissioner of Vermont

How did you come across and find your passion in the field of public health?

Daniel: Healthcare is a public right and a human right and I think that’s really what got me interested.

Stephanie: My undergraduate degree was in biology, chemistry, and anthropology. For me, those circles didn’t really fit my world model and public health is the Venn diagram for those components but also how our environment and our culture all impact our life and our health.

Jillian: I started out at UVM as an undergrad in medical laboratory science working with bacteria. When I graduated I became a microbiologist at the health department state lab and then I wanted to find out a little bit more about the people behind the bacteria and why they were sending in their specimens, so while I was working I started working on my MPH, I became an infectious disease epidemiologist at the department and then discovered a real love of data through that and the data that we use in infectious disease is really about solving outbreaks and doing surveillance and more descriptive data monitoring. I then moved on to doing program evaluation which is specifically evaluating a program and seeing if it is working or impacting the people that it is meant to serve – it’s a little bit more applied, which is why I like it.

Jenney: I went to undergraduate here at UVM and after a few years I joined the nutritional science program with the goal of becoming a dietician. As I graduated from here and began entering my dietetic internship program I went out to Illinois and there when I first started in graduate school. I started working in a community education program which was a public health program at the university and dually went into the nutrition program. I looked at the public health classes and started enrolling because they were the most fascinating and interesting between epidemiology and death education and kind of the comprehensive roles of public health.  From graduate school, I went into college student health and then ended up going into a wellness program in long-term care at a continuing care facility. While I was there, I was really working on changing the systems. I came back to VT and began working on how we can change the process of the socio-ecological model of how care is provided, how we do prevention in communities, and I really found my passion in doing that kind of system-level changes.

Sally: I’m a nurse and I went to the University of Delaware many years ago and I kind of liked working in the hospital but I didn’t know that I didn’t love it until I did my community health work in Wilmington. We did a full semester of public health nursing in lower-income areas in Wilmington, Delaware and once I started tramping the streets I realized that’s what I really wanted to do. I think we all in public health feel the direct connection to the public and to the community and that’s what we’re trying to do here – we are trying to serve and help those with economic, social, and health inequities. I then got my masters at UVM in community health nursing, which is no longer offered here.

Jan: I’m trained as a physician, so I got my MD and did my residency in internal medicine so I’m an internist – doctor for adults – and then I took a course, and I thought oh this is cool science and practice of how you prevent disease. All the things I was taking care of in individual patients – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, for example – there was a science of how you could prevent some of that and that was a great feeling for me.

What do you think is the most pressing public health issue faced in Vermont today?

  • Sally: Climate change
  • Jillian: Housing
  • Jenney: Socioeconomic inequity
  • Jan: Chronic conditions
  • Stephanie: I’m not gonna argue with equity and housing and all of that.
  • Daniel: Basic access, gun control, venereal disease at the college level

Important Organizations/Further Resources

  • American Public Health Association
  • Vermont Public Health Association (internship opportunities)
  • United Way of Northwest VT and Howard Mental Health (volunteer opportunities)
  • AmeriCorps Vista
  • Global health: NGOs, United Nations
  • CSTE: Council of State Territorial Epidemiologists (fellowship opportunity)
  • Internships – example: office of the chief medical examiner with Dr. Shapiro

Spotlight: Alex Hollander, ’21

Today’s Spotlight is one of our Exploring Group’s Peer Leader – Alex Hollander. She is a junior who changed her major from Nursing to Health Sciences. Below she has provided tips on how to go about changing or declaring a major.

Do your research!

Finding a new major can be difficult. It’s best to start by finding information about all your options. I suggest going through the majors and minors list for UVM online to see what grabs your interest. You’ll want to ask yourself- what do you want to learn more about? This is a great way to begin the search and find out what you like versus don’t like. Once you’ve identified a major that you’re curious about, go to that major’s department’s website to learn more about it.

Talk to your advisor and/or an advisor in a major of interest

Your advisor is a great resource. Schedule a time to meet with them and talk about your values and interests. This can help them suggest majors/minors that might suit you. They can also answer questions about your online search and further questions you have, they may even recommend you speak with an advisor in the identified major to make sure you understand what that chosen major entails in terms of credits, classes, and possibly what students have gone on to do professionally if this is a question you have.

Meet with the Exploring Interest Group to do a major sort

The Career Center has great resources. The Exploring Interest Group is for students that aren’t sure about what they want. We do an awesome major sort activity where we run through all majors at UVM with you. We will help you narrow down your options to where you can actually start planning on a major.

Run What If reports

Once you know what majors might be the one for you, running a What If report is the next step. Finding a major you like and a major you want to study is awesome, but only if it is feasible. For many of us, you want to find a major that allows you to graduate on time. So, a What If report will tell you what classes you would need to take for the particular major you’re exploring. By doing this, you can plan out how much time you have left at UVM with the potential new major.

Watch some educational videos on your major

Finding a new major might mean going in a new direction. I love CrashCourse videos on YouTube because they cover so many academic areas. If you are looking at a major you have never taken a class in, or even if you have, it’s worth doing some final investigating before committing yourself to it. Watch a video, see if the information actually interests and excites you.

We hope this can help you get started on choosing or switching a major. If you have further questions or need more assistance, please make sure you attend the upcoming Majors/Minors Fest on Tuesday, October 29th in the Davis Center from 1pm-3pm.

Spotlight: “Olive and Milo” Internship

Josie is currently a Junior at The University of Vermont. She is majoring in public communications with a concentration in journalism and a minor in applied design. She devoted time this past summer to navigating Handshake, a job and internship platform, in search of an internship for the fall semester. She was able to tailor her search by entering her interests, experiences, desired career fields, location preferences, and skill set.

Josie found an internship that truly spoke to her and fit perfectly into her desired schedule for the fall. After completing the application process, Josie was ecstatic to hear back that she was selected for the internship for the entirety of the fall semester – not to mention, that she would additionally be receiving credits for her work!

She started her social media and marketing internship with “Olive and Milo” at the end of August. Her role involved assisting her supervisor in marketing for her clients and being responsible for writing blogs. Some topics she specifically was able to gain more experience with and became more comfortable with throughout this internship thus far include developing her social media presence and understanding, as well as increasing her personal confidence with creating unique topics and ideas for discussion.

Josie was able to build her understanding of marketing and obtained hands-on experience. Such opportunities contributed more to her personal growth and allowed her to picture a more solidified idea of potential professions and job-oriented interests. Not to mention, she was also able to determine beneficial and ample skills that she already has established, as well as other areas that she may work on to make herself a better candidate for future opportunities within these industries.

Additionally, this internship has also allowed Josie to get a personal feel on preferred work environments. She explained that interning at “Olive and Milo” has helped her understand how she works best, which is very similar to the overall company function and ethic. Working in a collaborative and motivational environment with encouraging people that hold similar values is a special feature of “Olive and Milo” that she will continue to seek.

While Josie has expressed a number of unique learning outcomes that she has already grasped from interning at “Olive and Milo”, her greatest gain thus far has been her personal gain in understanding this particular professional field and being able to narrow her interests more for the future. She is happy to be learning and gaining experience at “Olive and Milo”, and expressed that, “As a communications major, I could tell when I looked at their website and handshake profile that I would be getting involved with a company that is practicing what they preach. I was excited to work with a company that seemed to have it together – and I knew I was going to learn so much. I could tell that I would be working with one person that started the company so I could learn more about entrepreneurship as well – which I did. Overall, I could tell I would be working with someone that wants their business to grow, and I wanted to be there to help and learn.”

A Conversation With Fardowsa Ibrahim

Earlier this month, the Mosaic Center for Students of Color (MCSC) gave out awards to recognize the achievements of students of color in the UVM community. We spoke with Fardowsa Ibrahim about the award she won, and how she sees her leadership skills growing in the years to come. Fardowsa was awarded the Lufuno Tshikororo Award. “I was very surprised,” Fardowsa said. “This wonderful opportunity motivated me even more to work with youth groups in my community. Particularly young Somali Bantu girls, knowing that I myself used and needed a lot support going through the education system.”

When asked what supports she leaned on this year in terms of developing her leadership, Fardowsa mentioned the TRiO Student Support Services (SSS), MSCS and her family. “I was pushed, motivated, challenged and most of all loved throughout the process.” Fardowsa credits SSS and the Mosaic Center for having helped instill in her a sense of confidence. She was able to rely on these supports systems, especially when she felt discouraged or disempowered.

“I hope to be able to help other youth fulfil their dreams,” Fardowsa offered when asked about her plans going forward. “I hope to be as supportive as I can. When I started at UVM, I was very shy, and now I feel like I have so much confidence to be able to stand up for what I believe in. I want everyone to know that anything is possible and never let anyone convince you that you can’t make it happen. I want to leave everyone with this John Quincy Adams quote that means a lot to me: ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’”

The Benefits of Peer Mentorship

Riley Strawbridge (’19)

We spoke with Riley Strawbridge (’19), a Peer Mentor, about his experience thus far. “Working as a peer mentor was the best step to prepare me for my career after college,” Riley said. “It provided me both with a fantastic support network and also gave me the knowledge of what it takes to land a career. The Hub is a great space for personal development, all of the Career advisors are helpful and often will have a conversation directly with you on what you hope to do for a career.  Everyone in the space wants to see you succeed, and it makes the often nervewracking process of applying and interviewing much easier.”

We asked Riley how being a Peer Mentor has helped him personally feel more prepared to take on a job after college. Riley responded, “The NACE Competencies that I have solidified while working as a Career Peer Mentor are Professionalism and Work Ethic and Career Management. Being a Peer Mentor has given me exposure to hundreds of people’s stories about how they applied to a job. I have been able to take that information and create a good sense of how best to handle yourself in a professional environment. Being a Peer Mentor also has allowed me to practice my Career Management skills. I often give students my own elevator pitch to give them an example of what one should sound like. Through this I have learned how best to express my skills, interests, weaknesses and experiences.”

Finally, we asked Riley what advice he’d give to students who were interested in becoming a Peer Mentor for next year. Riley said, “I think that Peer Mentoring is the best way of learning how to do a specific skill. If you have to teach other students about career preparation then you will leave the position being way more comfortable in it. The best way for students to prepare for their career is engage in UVM’s community whether it be joining a club or finding a job. Becoming an active member of UVM’s community creates so many valuable connections going forward.”

Interested in applying to be a peer mentor? Applications are due March 30th!