National observance celebrates the ways public health rocks!

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The University of South Florida College of Public Health held a weeklong celebration to commemorate National Public Health Week, April 2-8.

Each year National Public Health Week is held during the first full week of April and is organized by the American Public Health Association (APHA), a government-based professional organization for public health professionals that prides itself on influencing federal policy and bringing together members from all fields of public health. The week is observed to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight important health issues.

To kick off the festivities, the Public Health Student Association and USF Health Shared Student Services hosted an inter-professional lunch and learn seminar. The seminar included a panel who discussed “Integrating Cultural Competency and Diversity in Health.” Panelists included Dr. Alicia Best, assistant professor of Community and Family Health from the COPH.

“A lot of times we think of cultural competence as a static thing, but it’s not. We all come from different values and backgrounds. We have to stress that it’s a mindset and we have to be open minded and truly care to understand another person’s values. We also need to focus our attention on systems; if we focus on a system then individuals operating within that system will operate with cultural competence,” said Best.

Other panel members included COPH alumnus Dr. Bryan Bognar, College of Medicine, Dr. Ponrathi Athlilingam, College of Nursing, and Cielo Gomez, founder of Casa Chiapas Tampa, Inc.

The Public Health Student Association and USF Health Shared Student Services hosted the panel. Panel members discussed the importance of integrating cultural competency in health care. (Photo by Ellen Kent)

On April 2, students took part in the “This is Public Health” social where they enjoyed ice cream and spoke to other student organizations about how to get involved in public health at USF.

Student representatives from some of COPH’s student organizations helped to kicked off the event, which included ice cream and informational tables to showcase the student groups. (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

The Give Life Day and Wellness Fair took place in the COPH lobby on April 3. COPHers were able to make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood with OneBlood and registering with the National Marrow Donor Program and Donate Life Florida. They also learned ways to take care of their own physical health through getting their BMI and blood pressure examined, learning about the importance of colon cancer screening, ways to alleviate stress, and how to engage in a proper nutritious diet.

Dr. Heewon Gray

USF COPH’s Dr. Heewon Gray, assistant professor of community and family health, was available for nutrition questions at the “Ask the Dietitian!” table. (Photo by Anna Mayor)


The USF COPH’s Florida Prevention Research Center stressed the importance of colorectal cancer prevention with their walk-through exhibit taking individuals inside a colon to highlight a polyp that can be found during early screening. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Emily Walters at Give Life Day

Emily Walters, a first year MPH student concentrating on global health practice and epidemiology, helped to welcome visitors to the event. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

At the Annual Public Health Awards Ceremony on April 4, the COPH presented awards for student research, Excellence in Teaching, Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health and Outstanding Alumni. Delta Omega inductees and academic scholarship recipients were also recognized. For a full list of awardees, including named student scholarships, view the 2018 National Public Health Week Awards Program.

Dr. Zachary Pruitt

(From left): Dr. Joannie Bewa, MPH student and PHSA president, Dr. Zachary Pruitt, Excellence in Teaching Awardee and assistant professor of health policy and management, and Dr. Donna Petersen, COPH dean. (Photo by Torie Doll)

(From left): Dr. Donna Petersen, COPH dean, with Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health awardee Deanne Miranda Cornette, counsel for strategic development at the Agency for Community Treatment Services, Inc. Miranda Cornette is also a COPH alumna. (Photo by Torie Doll)

(From left): Outstanding Alumni Awardees, Dr. Sharad Suryakant Malavade, senior resident in internal medicine at Brandon Regional Hospital; Candace Webb, senior state health policy analyst with the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families; and Dr. Donna Petersen, COPH dean. (Photo by Torie Doll)

In celebration of World Health Day, the college, Florida Center for Community Design & Research, USF School of Architecture, and the Global Disaster Humanitarian Relief Student Collaborative hosted “Design+Health” on April 5 where public health experts discussed the health disparities and need for improvements in urban planning, transportation, food, agriculture and education in an effort to minimize the burden of disease.

Panel members (from left): Sarah Mason, sustainability and senior analyst for Strategic Property Partners; Allison Yeh, principal planner and sustainability coordinator for Hillsborough County; Dr. Donna Petersen, USF College of Public Health dean; Taryn Sabia, research associate professor for USF’s School of Architecture and Community Design and director of the Florida Center for Community Design and Research; and Joel Mills, senior director of Center for Communities by Design at the American Institute of Architects. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

An example Joel Mills showed during his opening discussion of how a community can impact health. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

The Annual Chiles Lecture and Symposium on April 6 presented current research of faculty, staff and students impacting the health of women, children and families. Dr. Paula Braveman, director of the Center on Social Disparities in Health at the University of California, San Francisco discussed, “To Achieve Health Equity, We Must Go (Even Farther) Upstream.”

Dr. Paula Braveman explained how chronic stress and disparities in education and income impact chronic disease in adulthood. (Photo by Ellen Kent)

The week rounded off with the 5th Annual COPH Cookout & Potluck at USF Riverfront Park. The COPH’s faculty, staff and students brought their families with them to enjoy an afternoon of conversation and good food with their peers.

Students, faculty, staff and their families enjoyed the sun and breeze at USF’s Riverfront Park for the annual COPH cookout and potluck. (Photo by Natalie Preston)

USF COPH’s 5th Annual BBQ and Potluck group photo. (Photo by Ellen Kent)

For more photos from this year’s National Public Health Week, view Ellen Kent’s montage.

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health