“I found I loved public health policy almost as much as social marketing,” said MPH graduate, Julie Hentz.
Hentz graduated May 6 with a master of public health degree from the USF College of Public Health.
She made the jump from advertising to public health after working for years in advertising with companies, such as J. Walter Thomas, Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hentz said her interest in public health stems from its potential for prevention of human suffering and mortality from disease.
“I owned my own small advertising company,” said Hentz. “I was offered a position at CDC, which sounded very interesting and attractive. There I was able to move my knowledge and experience in corporate marketing theory, and my practice to health prevention awareness and behavior change.”
Hentz’s introduction to academic life began early on—born in Raleigh, N.C. she spent her childhood moving to whatever college town her father’s career as a professor happened to take them. From North Carolina State, Hentz went to Princeton University to the University of Notre Dame.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing, as well as her bachelor’s in fine arts, from Indiana University, in 1983. Hentz later completed her associate’s degree in visual communications from the Art Institute of Atlanta, before landing at the University of South Florida, where she completed a graduate certificate in social marketing in 2013.
Her journey as a student definitely would not be characterized as easy—between family responsibilities, death, working and life in general, Hentz seemed to have curveballs thrown at her left and right.
“I lost both of my parents during this time, I sold the house that I raised my children in, and moved to D.C. with two dogs and three birds,” she said.
Despite the challenges and full schedule, Hentz still found the time to participate in professional activities and associations, including the International Association of Social Marketing.
Hentz also returns to USF every other June, despite living in D.C., for the Social Marketing Conference, where she has the opportunity to catch up with staff and colleagues.
When selecting a university for her public health education, she said it was a clear choice for her—USF was not only rated within the top 20 public health universities in the U.S., but boasted many benefits she could utilize.
“CDC had an agreement with USF that provided CDC staff with in-state tuition to pursue their MPH,” said Hentz. “I also knew they were the leader in social marketing in this country.”
Currently, Hentz works with IQ Solutions, a Washington-based public health organization, as the director of social issue marketing. There, she applies her education from COPH to real time projects, directs all corporate and social marketing activities, and utilizes her education about epidemiology, infectious disease and policies.
“I value having the opportunity to work on a variety of public health topics,” said Hentz. “We work with the FDA on dashboards related to youth tobacco cessation and prevention, AARP and Healthy People 2020 on web development and design work, NIDA and NIAMS, NICHD on maternal child health, Robert Wood Johnson on Human Capital Campaign; my days are full of a broad array of health promotion and prevention efforts.”
Outside of her academic pursuits, Hentz likes anything related to the outdoors or new adventures—bike riding, gardening, traveling, you name it—just give her some fresh air and a map!
“I’ve been a runner and competitor in races around the country for 32 years,” she said. “Learning new things is fulfilling to me. I will study Italian at the Center for Italian Studies here in D.C. when I have free time.”
Once she masters Italian, Hentz has no intention of stopping.
“I plan to move toward creating a consultancy in social marketing approaches to native health promotion in the near future,” she said. “I am devoted to health equity.”
Backed by a wealth of education, motivation, and experience, Hentz is more than prepared to leave her mark on the world—both social marketing and public health.
Story by Shelby Bourgeois, USF College of Public Health