Grad student honored with national public health award
Liberty University Master of Public Health student Olushola Ogunleye was announced as the recipient of the 2017 Trong D. Nguyen Memorial Award at the annual American Public Health Association Conference in Atlanta, Ga.
The conference is a chance for upcoming public health professionals to hear from national and international experts in the field during a four-day event. The award, which honors Trong Nguyen, a public health professional who was killed in a car crash in 2006, is given to a student who has made a significant leadership contribution in the field of public health.
Originally from Nigeria, Ogunleye is passionate about educating people about the importance of health.
“Public health involves what we do collectively as a community to assure the conditions for us to be healthy,” Ogunleye said. “I wanted to acquire those skills to accomplish that goal.”
Before coming to the United States, Ogunleye practiced medicine for four years in Nigeria. He served in numerous hospitals in rural communities. While serving the Bethesda Hospital Ikachi in Makurdi, Benue, Nigeria, Ogunleye was appointed as the Head of the Antiretroviral Therapy clinic and served a population of 5,000 people in the community. He also worked with a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) team, educating rural communities in Zaria, Nigeria about the importance of the poliomyelitis vaccination.
“Having worked in a rural setting in a different country and having seen how there is a large problem with infectious diseases, I realized there needed to be more preventative measures,” Ogunleye said. “I felt that I had a part to play creating awareness.”
Seeing how social factors such as poverty, civil unrest, and poor infrastructure affected public health only strengthened Ogunleye’s mission. He decided to continue his education, and he chose Liberty because he wanted to learn in a Christian environment.
“I wanted to see how a Christian life could be integrated into medical and public health practice and help change lives for Christ,” he said. “The program here at Liberty has helped me a lot. It has shown me how much public health is needed — not just in a developing nation, but (also) here in the United States.”
Ogunleye said approaching public health from a Christian perspective gives one a unique understanding.
“(Public health) can also be a mission field,” he said. “We go out there into the community and show the love of Christ to them. We as a people need to see how God has given us this tool of public health to show everyone around us how to accomplish good health.”
Being chosen as the recipient of the Trong D. Nguyen Memorial Award was a great experience, according to Ogunleye.
“That was my first time attending the APHA conference and there was so much opportunity to learn (from experts),” he said. “There was a wide variety of public health professionals from different disciplines and specialties coming together that I could learn from.”
Liberty University's Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) is a prestigious degree that enhances your marketable credentials. In public health fields, the M.P.H. is comparable to the M.B.A. in the business world and is an applied science degree. Epidemiology (the study of epidemics and epidemic diseases) and biostatistics are the foundation of the M.P.H. The degree is a great fit for any who desire a health care delivery/public health government career or expanded public health knowledge for personal interest or service.