Graduate Daniel Hutchinson puts his public health knowledge to the test in COVID-19 response

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Daniel Hutchinson chose to attend the USF COPH for his undergraduate degree because of its commitment to research.

“As an incoming freshman, I wanted to be involved with research at some point in my academic career,” he said. “I also liked the diversity that USF provided.”

Hutchinson said that he has many fond memories of his time at the COPH.

Daniel Hutchinson, BSPH (Photo courtesy of Hutchinson)

“I think my favorite memory was being able to talk with my professors about the real-life applications of the topics I learned in class,” he said. “These conversations helped to provide more insight and depth about the importance of public health in society. I also enjoyed connecting with other students and learning about their cultural background.”

I have pleasant thoughts about my time at the College of Public Health! My analytical and critical thinking skills have increased significantly over the past 4 years, and I am very thankful for the opportunities that I received through the COPH. While I did experience many challenges like any other college student, I was able to overcome. The challenges reinforced the importance of having perseverance, determination, discipline and a positive attitude when dealing with adversities in life.

Hutchinson began helping with the COVID-19 response by answering to the call for volunteers at the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management around late March/ early April. 

“I helped by doing whatever tasks needed to be completed to help support the local COVID-19 response in the community,” Hutchinson said. 

Many of the skills and training that Hutchinson received from his homeland security and emergency management minor and tips from Elizabeth Dunn, instructor I at the COPH, helped him immensely as a volunteer.

“I was able to keep up with the terminology and rapidly changing health statistics. I also had a pretty good understanding of what was happening in the fast-paced environment,” he said. “I was happy to be a volunteer! I strongly believed that it was my responsibility as a public health major to get involved in the fight against this dreadful illness. It’s another proud moment of my time at the COPH.”

A major challenge Hutchinson faced was trying to avoid getting sick while volunteering. 

“It was quite nerve-wracking because at that time, we did not have as much information as we do now about the virus— viable therapeutics, the intricacies of transmission, health outcomes etc. There was a lot of uncertainty and some trepidation. However, what motivated me to continue was the fact that there were health care workers and first responders who were on the frontlines every day,” he said. “They were (and still are…) taking much more risks than I was; the least I could do was to help support their frontline operations in any way shape or form that I could.”

Hutchinson also wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone that we are still living in a pandemic. 

“While some businesses have reopened, it is imperative that we do not get complacent!” Hutchinson said. “Social distancing and wearing a mask are important safety measures that we should continue to implement in our lives.”

Hutchinson’s post-grad plan is to continue his education at the USF COPH in the MPH in global communicable diseases program.

“I hope to be able to gain specialized knowledge in this field and become a leader in the field of public health,” he said. “Ultimately, I want to go to medical school in the future and specialize in trauma surgery.”

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health