COPH’s Elizabeth Dunn receives 2015 Human Rights Award [multimedia]

USF College of Public Health’s Elizabeth A. Dunn, MPH, CPH, was selected to receive the 2015 Human Rights Award from the Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council.


Dunn, assistant to the director and adjunct faculty Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief and Homeland Security Department of Global Health in the USF College of Public Health, was among eight honorees for the 2015 Human Rights Award. She was presented with the award at the 42nd Annual Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Awards Breakfast held Dec. 11.

Dunn was nominated for her volunteer work in the community and involving USF undergraduate students by facilitating service-learning courses. She teaches a course called Community Partnerships and Homeland Security, which has service learning at its foundation. Dunn works with multiple community partners volunteering her time to help take the lead on various community projects with 65 COPH students.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen to Elizabeth Dunn talk about the importance of volunteering.

In addition, she was recognized for her volunteer work with the Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force, the refugee mental health subcommittee, the Refugee and Migrant Women’s Initiative (RAMWI), the United Nations Association, the Hillsborough County Local Mitigation Strategy Working Group, Hillsborough County Emergency Management, and the American Red Cross where she volunteers as a First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor, and Disaster Action Team lead.

Dunn “is dedicated to serving vulnerable populations in the Tampa Bay area while striving to inspire students to be more engaged in making a public health impact,” noted the Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council in its letter informing Dunn of her selection.

“This has been a true honor and a complete surprise that I was nominated, let alone selected to receive this award,” she said. “Everything I do with the students and in the community is because I am passionate about public health, want to set an example for our students and believe that it is important to engage with the community.”

COPH sound-icon-png Listen to Elizabeth Dunn talk about human rights.

Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council has presented Human Rights Awards since 1973 to recognize individuals or entities who have served the community by championing human rights for all residents.

Dunn joined USF in Dec. 2012. In describing her work as faculty, she is clear about her aim for finding a balance with both allowing each student room to pursue his or her own passion and for guiding the student toward goals and projects that will have impact.

USF Health

Elizabeth Dunn.

“I try to focus a lot on the service learning to help put into context for them that everything has an impact on our personal home security, be it access to health care, education, shelter, safety,” Dunn said.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen to Elizabeth Dunn share why teaching extends her passion into practice.

Dunn’s undergraduate degree is in economics, which gives her a better understanding for the reality faced by many of the people she is aiming to help. Her pursuit of her master’s degree in public health became a nature next step.

“To understand economic development, there has to be some aspect of a health component there,” she said. “So all this time I had an interest in public health and didn’t even realize it.”

On being selected as a 2015 Human Rights Award recipient, Dunn is quick to recognize others, including the many community partners who provide the service opportunities for her students.

“This award would not be possible without the support of our students, community partners, and faculty in the Department of Global Health,” she said. “It is a wonderful experience to spend extra time giving back and connecting students who are eager to gain experience and practice public health. When you are passionate about something it does not seem like extra work at all.”

Audio and photos by Sandra C. Roa, USF Health Office of Communications.