Alumna Susan Webb blends anthropology and public health in a community garden

| Academic & Student Affairs, CFH, Featured News, Monday Letter, Our Alumni

Born and raised in Tampa, Fla., USF College of Public Health alumna Susan Webb has always been interested in helping her community.

She began her education in the USF Department of Anthropology and earned her BA in 2009. While she was earning her undergraduate degree, she started taking public health classes and became interested in how the two disciplines, anthropology and public health, examined the intersection of culture, health and disease.

“I was drawn to the underlying principles of public health: to practice prevention, focus on health education, and examine the root causes of disease and illness,” Webb said. “When I started college as an undergrad, I was originally interested in environmental issues, and quickly realized that most, if not all, of our environmental issues are just that, our issues. I came to value that to care for the environment, we equally have to care for people.”

COPH alumna Susan Webb, MA, MPH (photo courtesy of Webb).

COPH alumna Susan Webb, MA, MPH (photo courtesy of Webb).

Continuing her education and newfound interest in public health at USF, Webb completed a dual master’s degree program earning both her master of arts in anthropology and master of public health in 2014.

During her time at USF, Webb said that she was always inspired by the faculty and students in COPH and the Department of Anthropology.

“There were so many people working to make the world a better place whether through improving drinking water, studying infectious diseases, reducing maternal mortality or decreasing food insecurity,” Webb said.

She said that her time at the COPH prepared her for the workforce, and beyond that —to be a better informed citizen in her own life.

Susan Webb practicing her passion at a farm in North Florida (Photo courtesy of Webb).

Susan Webb gardening at a farm in North Florida (Photo courtesy of Webb).

Webb is currently practicing her passion as a regional specialized agent for community gardens under the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Bok Tower Gardens Partnership.  She works with community groups that want to start or already have a community gardens in Polk County, Fla.  Additionally she provides the education and resources that community groups need to create and maintain successful garden spaces.

Community gardens are spaces that embody many wellness practices, such as physical exercise, vegetable consumption, and developing a sense of community; as a result, they are not only gardens, but also public health spaces.

Webb said that she was most attracted to her current job because it allowed her to bring many of her passions together in one position: community health, community building, increasing food access and gardening.

“Public health is everywhere we are, which means that increasing public health is part of every sphere, in grocery stores, in national parks, in offices, in homes.  I believe that public health practitioners have the ability to address complex issues holistically with an eye towards the different levels of the socio-ecological model,” Webb said.


Fast Five for COPH Alumni:

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

All kinds of things! I dressed up in the fifth grade as a zoologist/writer for National Geographic for our school career day, I am still holding on to that one.

Where would we find you on the weekend?

Hanging out with my lovely husband, Tyler, and our two pups, Mr. and Miss Agnes, at home.

What is the last book you read?

“The Golden Spruce.”

What superpower would you like to have?

To be able to fly!

What’s your all-time favorite movie?



Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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