It’s 6:00 on Wednesday morning.
Most college students are barely awake. Not so for an eager bunch of USF College of Public Health students. Instead of sleeping in, they opted to rise with the sun for an opportunity to work out with Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong, MD.
In town for a meeting with all of Florida’s county health directors, Armstrong began Wednesday, July 16, with a brisk walk around USF’s picturesque campus. The bullish group gathered at 5:45 a.m., and by 6 a.m., about 70 people were off and walking for at least two miles.
The walk was in recognition of the Florida Department of Health Healthiest Weight Initiative and has become a standing agenda item for the annual FDOH Directors Conference. Participants included the Surgeon General’s leadership staff; directors and administrators representing Florida’s 67 county health departments; and staff from the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, including Dr. Douglas Holt, Andor Szentivanyi Professor in the Morsani College of Medicine.
“Dr. Armstrong has the type of personality that can inspire and encourage. He has a passion for health, and the vast experience necessary to move public health in Florida from talking points to action,” said dual-degree public health/anthropology student Brian Brijbag. “It was great to experience not just his promotion of a healthy lifestyle, but to witness him leading a healthy lifestyle.”
“To me, the best part of participating in the walk was to be able to interact with several of the health department directors, particularly those from counties where I am pretty unfamiliar, like those in the Panhandle,” said dual- degree public health/anthropology graduate student Nikki Demetriou. “It helped me wrap my head around the diversity of health challenges we face as a state, partly based on our geographical distances and variance.”
Story by Natalie D. Preston and photos by Ellen Kent, USF College of Public Health