Without question, Monday, Nov. 6 was a memorable night for the USF College of Public Health.
More than 100 current and aspiring Bull public health professionals were in Atlanta for the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. They spent the early part of the day presenting their research, leading roundtable discussions, and learning from peers via scheduled sessions.
But, the evening belonged to USF!
“Delta Omega is the national honor society for public health, a society that recognizes excellence and innovation in academic public health and public health practice,” Dean Donna Petersen said. “Somer’s election to the leadership board speaks to the high regard Delta Omega members have for USF and to Somer’s reputation as a proven leader in promoting excellence in public health practice experiences for all of our students.”
Somer Burke is COPH’s assistant director of experiential learning and an alumna. In her dual role as president of USF’s Tau Chapter and Delta Omega member at-large, she joins the executive committee who will make recommendations on advancing the national organization and its mission.
Doctoral student Caitlin Wolfe and undergraduate Shahrzad Zamani were two of 19 students selected to represent USF at the Annual Delta Omega Student Poster Session. The event encourages and recognizes public health leaders of tomorrow.
“As a student who didn’t submit anything for the regular APHA sessions, I really appreciated the opportunity to attend and present at the Delta Omega session,” Wolfe said. “I had some great conversations and learned about additional organizations and conferences. The highlight was I was encouraged to submit work related to my Delta Omega abstract along with a personal recommendation from attendees interested in my poster!”
“It was motivating to see a conference of this large capacity filled with public health professionals working toward healthier communities,” Zamani said. “I am very proud to be representing the Tau Chapter and for this opportunity to present my research.”
Zamani’s study is the first and only undergraduate student research to ever be presented at the poster session.
The final Delta Omega kudos went to USF’s Tau Chapter.
“Ellen Kent worked tirelessly to represent all of the great things happening with our Tau Chapter and deserved the recognition of winning one of two 2017 Chapter of the Year Awards,” Burke said. “Our students were also presented with their awards at the meeting, so it was a time of real celebration for the College of Public Health!”
Just as the Delta Omega festivities were wrapping up, the COPH’s annual reception was gearing up.
Then everything went dark. The entire city block lost power.
“We had about 45 minutes to figure out a plan B before the event started at 6:30 p.m.,” said Natalie Preston, COPH’s director of engagement and constituent relations. “Restaurant staff scrambled to secure votives and portable lighting while I finished setting up what I could see. Thankfully, temperatures were mild and we had access to the rooftop patio. Buildings across the street provided some light.”
According to Preston, a line of Bulls wrapped down the stairs as they waited to sign in at a welcome table lit only by the emergency light from an exit sign.
“There were about 30 to 40 attendees there at the start and they were not deterred by the power outage,” she said.
“Power was restored around 7 p.m. and was greeted by a round of applause from guests and restaurant staff!” Preston said.
Attendees included COPH alumni, faculty, staff and students, as well as colleagues from USF, community partners, collaborators at other public health organizations and prospective students.
“Even though the evening got off to an unexpected start, the reception went just as planned,” Preston said. “Alumni yelled with excitement upon seeing fellow grads and favorite professors. Staff like me were able to interact with prospective students. And, I observed current students networking with alumni.”
Preston shared that upon exiting the venue, she was approached by COPH alumna Lindsey King who indicated a group was moving the after party to the main restaurant.
“Yep, the reception went just as planned—Bulls united,” Preston said. “Can’t ask for more than that.”
Staff writer, USF College of Public Health