Public Health Summer Institute again draws raves

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The Public Health Summer Institutes at the USF College of Public Health drew raves from its student participants last year. From all indications, this year’s edition scored another hit.

“It was great, wonderful!” exclaimed Hillsborough High School senior Maximilian Site, one of 11 student participants. “Anyone accepted to this experience should go for it and try it. Stay the week. Anything you miss you will regret.”

Maximilian Site

Maximilian Site

The weeklong summer institute was held July 21-25. It was the last in a series of three institutes over the summer. The program targets high school students in Hillsborough County and college students planning for graduate studies.

Dr. René R. Salazar, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, directs the program, which is in its second year.

Salazar said the program aims to introduce students to the educational and career opportunities available in the various fields of public health. The hope is to spark enough enthusiasm to bring in new students eager to major or minor in public health at USF.

“Two of the summer institutes aim to introduce the disciplines of public health to high school students,” Salazar explained, “and the institute for graduate students aims to enthuse them to pursue graduate degrees in occupational health and safety.”

PHSI HS student group

Dr. Rene Salazar pictured with this year’s high school participants in the Public Health Summer Institute.

Students said they appreciated Salazar’s patient and informative style of breaking down every aspect of public health for their understanding. Most of the students went into the institute having expressed at least an interest in the field.

Senior Amanda Amigo of Tampa Bay Technical High School said she enjoyed the institute so much she’s already eyeing a career in public health.

Amanda Amigo

Amanda Amigo

“Every day I came in, I learned a lot, and I was looking forward day after day to coming,” she said. “I will take back the knowledge of public health and knowing that it will most likely be my future.”

Students spent the week learning about all facets of public health via lectures by professors, field trips and campus tours. COPH funded their on-campus and off-campus activities, meals, snacks and transportation.

Deena Singh, a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Robinson High School, said that the most memorable part of the program was the “This is Public Health” campaign video.

Deena Singh

Deena Singh

“They were putting stickers everywhere,” she said, “because public health is in every aspect of the community. That’s why it’s such a big field, because preventative methods are very important. Public health touches everyone’s lives.”

Story by David Brothers. Photos by Ellen Kent and Natalie D. Preston, USF College of Public Health