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Liberty News

Public health students gain practical experience at summer internships

July 5, 2016 : Liberty University News Service

Rising senior, Joshua Brennan, is interning at the Center for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) in Washington state as part of a research team investigating the accelerated corrosion of steel surfaces in underground mines.
Rising senior Joshua Brennan is interning at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he is investigating the accelerated corrosion of steel surfaces in underground mines.

During the summer months, 74 Master of Public Health (MPH) students are applying what they have learned in the classroom in real-world environments around the globe. From fighting tobacco use in Maryland to helping low-income women in the Philippines, internships provide a variety of opportunities for students to practice their skills while helping others.

Launched in January 2012, Liberty’s Department of Public & Community Health offers programs to help meet the growing demand for public health professionals both at home and abroad. The MPH program gives students a foundation in epidemiology and biostatistics and offers concentrations in health promotion, global health, and nutrition.

Dr. Richard Lane, director of Liberty’s MPH program, said students can select their own internship location and get real-world public health experience with oversight by a qualified public health specialist.

“It is especially rewarding when the students use the experience as an opportunity to imitate Christ by reaching underserved populations and meeting their public health needs,” Lane said. “Through the internship process, students sometimes find their life calling.”

Rising senior Joshua Brennan is interning at the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) in Washington state as part of a research team investigating the accelerated corrosion of steel surfaces in underground mines.

Brennan said his role has been to conduct a review of background literature in the field, identify means for detecting bacteria, and to help perform analyses for identification and removal of the bacteria species.

“I have a passion for research and promoting health in all areas of life,” he said. “At the CDC, I am able to pair the laboratory skills I developed in my undergraduate biology and chemistry courses with the health knowledge I have acquired from my studies in global health at Liberty.”

Sheila Carrette, a senior studying global health in the MPH program, is interning at the World Bank Group headquarters in Washington, DC, where she is working on a team that provides services to the Middle East and North Africa.
Sheila Carrette, a senior studying global health, is interning at the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., where she is working to develop a program to address mental health care for Syrian refugees.

Sheila Carrette, a senior studying global health in the MPH program, is interning at the World Bank Group headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she is working on a team that provides services to the Middle East and North Africa.

Carrette said she is working to develop a program to address mental health care for the Syrian refugees that have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, as well as for the millions of displaced individuals that remain in Syria.

“I am conducting a literature review on the prevalence of mental health illness and symptoms among refugees, the current mental health interventions in place in this region, as well as providing suggestions based on interventions that have worked in other crises situations around the world,” she said. “This will be used to advocate policy change surrounding healthcare in the region, as well as determine the distribution of funds for mental healthcare as it relates to the crisis.”

For Carrette, this internship is helping her fulfill a childhood dream.

“I have always wanted to be a missionary and work in the health care field, so when choosing my concentration within the MPH program, naturally, I gravitated toward global health,” she said. “This internship has provided me the opportunity to see another piece in the global health care picture. It is exciting to be able to help to develop a program that could positively impact millions in need, which is ultimately what my passion has been.”

Leslie Stalnaker, a senior studying global health, is completing a pre-doctoral fellowship in pediatric health with the Office of Health Equity & Inclusion at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.
Leslie Stalnaker, a senior studying public health, is completing a pre-doctoral fellowship in pediatric health at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

Leslie Stalnaker, a senior studying global health, is completing a pre-doctoral fellowship in pediatric health with the Office of Health Equity & Inclusion at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. Throughout the six-month program, Stalnaker will receive training and education in public health statistics.

“I am taking the basic concepts of epidemiology and biostatistics that I learned through my classes at Liberty and enhancing them in order to propose and conduct epidemiological research that helps define and describe different public health problems in children,” she said. “I also have the opportunity to mentor undergraduate students who are here for the summer and are getting their first experiences in the field of epidemiology.”

For her research project, Stalnaker is studying paternal mental health status (PMHS) and the possible association PMHS has to neurobehavioral conditions in children. She said the one highlight so far has been getting to discuss the field of mental health and epidemiology with prominent scholars from schools such as Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina.

“I am so blessed to have the opportunity to have this job while also being in the process of completing my degree,” she said. “Although my internship experience is slightly different than other students in my program, I have been able to find a position in my home state and with a great organization that allows me to use my passions and interests to enhance my skills and hopefully make a difference.”

  • Over one-third of Liberty students are pursuing health-related degrees. Read more in the Liberty Journal.

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