Pauline J. Rolle is honored with a 2019 COPH Outstanding Alumni Award

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

Each year, in conjunction with National Public Health Week, the USF College of Public Health recognizes a select group of alumni for their exceptional service and dedication to the field of public health. These alumni are chosen for the distinction based on recommendations made by COPH faculty and their professional colleagues.

This year, Dr. Pauline J. Rolle, a pediatrician who earned her MPH in public health practice in 2014, was one of three COPH alumni honored with an Outstanding Alumni Award. She received her award at a ceremony held at the COPH on April 3, during National Public Health Week.

Rolle earned her undergraduate degree from Fisk University and her medical degree from Meharry Medical College, both in Nashville. Since completing her medical residency, Rolle has spent most of her professional career in a variety of roles in the Florida Department of Health in Duval County. “I was really drawn to public health,” said Rolle. “It has allowed me to do the most good for those with the greatest need. For example, I don’t just address my patients’ medical needs, but I also address the social needs of the family, from smoking in the home, to violence, to illegal drug use.”

Pauline J. Rolle, MD, MPH. (Photo courtesy of Rolle)

Rolle decided on the USF COPH because it offered an online program that worked well with her schedule and lifestyle.

“This program was perfect for a busy executive like myself. And it prepared me very well to take the certification exam.”

Rolle passed the exam on the first try, in part, she says, because of the program’s rigorous coursework and the study resources professors made available.

Rolle credits her MPH degree with making her a better health care provider.

“My degree has helped me better understand the social determinants of health. I was well trained to deal with the internal issues affecting health, but I didn’t have a lot of understanding about the external ones [poverty, housing, family issues].”

Rolle, right, stands with her Bull statue and Brittney Blair, MPH, a COPH graduate  and mentee who introduced the Outstanding Alumni Award
 winner. (Photo by Natalie Preston)

Rolle is currently medical director for the Florida Department of Health in Duval County and oversees all clinical services, including those pertaining to behavioral health, epidemiology and pharmacy.

She is also interim health officer at the department and oversees the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, as well as maternal and child health and environmental health. She is currently working on a project that will enable women in their family-planning clinics to ask for PrEP (a pre-exposure prophylactic to prevent HIV infection) and is partnering with Healthy Start Coalition on an initiative to identify more women with postpartum depression.

“After years of working as a physician, I realized when I started my MPH program that I had no idea what public health was. It is very different from the individualized medicine I provided every day. Now, I use the knowledge I’ve learned to help others and influence change.”

Alumni Fast Five

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

A fashion designer

Where can we find you on the weekends?

At a sorority event or hanging with my family

What was the last book you read?

“Becoming,” by Michelle Obama

What superpower would you like to have?

Reading minds

What is your all-time favorite movie?

“The Godfather”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public