This Spring Break, a collective group of undergraduate and graduate Health Education and Behavior students travelled to Atlanta to tour and speak with representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society. Over the course of two days students would be exposed to many potential interests and opportunities post-graduation. Dr. Bernhardt lined up a number of presentations to be delivered at each facility, helping students gauge a better understanding of the impact the CDC and ACS have on the health promotion field.
At the CDC students heard from different personnel about their role within the agency and their career advice for health education graduates. Dr. Katherine Lyon Daniel spoke first about the agency’s duties and responsibilities under the United Stated government, and health education’s role within the federal agency. Detrice Munir and Leslie Gross provided students information about fellowship opportunities offered by the CDC and the steps and requirements needed to pursue those opportunities. Holly Hunt, Chief of School Health Branch, spoke with students regarding health promotion in schools and program development across the country toward the improvement of children’s health. Dr. Janet Collins, Associate Director for Program in the Office of the Director, shared information on the extensive transformation from infectious to chronic disease within the American population and sparked discussion about student’s thoughts and perspectives on the issue. Jeanine Cory and Jill Roark, from the Health Communication Science Branch, shed light on the field of communication science by talking about their expertise through the context of vaccination research.
From the CDC, the group went downtown to the global headquarters for the American Cancer Society. At the ACS, students were honored to hear from CEO, Dr. John Seffrin about his background in health education and how that academic background prepared him for his current position at the ACS. He was gracious enough to share his advice with students on how they can build a career based on their passion within the Health Education field. He then introduced, Dr. Brawley, Chief Medical Officer, who shared incredible information about his research in oncology. When asked for his advice towards student professional development, he told students to follow their passion while trying to predict and pursue “hot topics” within the field for the next 10-15 years.
In addition to the presentations that were given, students were lead by tour guides through each of the facilities. At the CDC they walked through the David J. Senser CDC History Museum, reading exhibits about the health and innovation of the informal communities around the world, the CDC’s original role as a US Public Health Service branch, polio lungs, and the increasing AIDS epidemic. Students were also privileged to tour the Emergency Operations Center, which operates at the command of national and international health outbreaks. While at the American Cancer Society, the tour guide showed students the administrative work of a non-profit. They had the chance to step into the press-room and hang out in Dr. Seffrin’s office with a beautiful skyline view.
This real-life exposure of our profession was more than inspiring to students. They had the opportunity to converse with many people about their career goals and passions and learn how to integrate those in health education. Both a governmental and non-profit perspective was offered to students to compare and contrast. This experience was ideal for our students. They left feeling hopeful for their futures by way of exposure to people with high standards and exceptional character to follow.