Posts tagged ‘APHA 2013’

APHA: Energizing and Focusing

By Julia Fleckman, MPH

I was really excited about the opportunity to attend the APHA conference in Boston this year, and I was definitely able to take a lot away from it. The chance to interact with a variety of people that work in public health was energizing and focusing. I was able to attend larger, more formal settings on innovative research in my field, as well as smaller round table sessions where I could directly interact with researchers and discuss the impacts of our work.

What I found to be most exciting and informative, was the opportunity to interact with other doctoral students and younger academic professionals at different stages of their career who worked in my research area. We were able to share ideas and talk about future collaborations, and I was also able to get advice on advancing my research and career. It was exciting to see the advances people are making in my field of interest, and generate ideas for the direction my own research could go in as I progress through my academic career.

I also found the poster presentations very helpful, and was again able to network with a variety of people in my field and ask questions about their projects. I was inspired by the overall passion people had for their work, and their ability to convey that enthusiasm to those around them. I hope that I now have the ability to create a more engaging poster presentation because of this experience.

I hope to attend APHA for many years to come as I follow my academic career path, and I think I will find new and engaging ways to learn from the conference with each stage of the path. Just being in the same building with so many people that are passionate about public health and excited to be there was reinvigorating!

Julia Fleckman is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests include social determinants of health, social epidemiology, health disparities, adolescent development, and HIV and STI prevention.


January 31, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Following Your Heart’s Fire

By Gloria Grady, BA

During the opening session of APHA, something clicked in my brain. I realized that stories of people coming together to make a change for the common good inspire me more than anything else in life. I also realized that nothing makes me angrier than racism, sexism, and many of the other “isms” that still haunt our society like a plague, literally making us sick.

I’ve known for a while that these things get under my skin like nothing else, but I have been afraid to do anything about it. Instead, I came up with lots of ways I could indirectly help the situation—not necessarily a bad thing, but not where my heart truly lies. I realized during the opening session that every fiber of my being wants to pull up the rotten roots that our society has grown out of. But is that even possible? And am I someone who could be a part of that?

For most of my life my heart has said yes, while my brain has given a defiant no. No, it’s not possible to change the very fabric of our society, a society based on greed and inequalities, so it’s much better to just find a job that will at least make you feel like you are doing something, while the ship continues to sink. But I think my heart is catching up to my brain. My brain cannot ignore my heart’s fire anymore.

So how do I fit that into public health? I’m not sure yet, but I know I am in the right place. Racism is a public health issue, and to be a part of bringing it down would be incredible. And the first step is convincing myself that it is possible. Maybe not in my lifetime or my children’s lifetime, but somehow, some way, it will happen.

Gloria Grady is a first-year MPH student and MCHLT Scholar, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.

January 30, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Coming Full Circle at APHA

By Meghan Ballard, MPH, RN

I was excited to attend the APHA conference in Boston, a city rich in history and great food.  Although the weather was freezing, a steamy cup of clam chowder was all that was needed after a long day at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  Even though the days were long and tiring, there was so much to learn and experience at APHA this year (2013).

This being my second year attending APHA, I knew what to expect and I knew how to plan.  I decided to attend sessions I was interested in while also attending sessions that others found interesting.  There are so many sessions to attend that it is important to keep an open mind on what you want to hear.  Luckily, this open mind took me to a session I was not even aware of, “Come on Baby, Don’t say Maybe.”  This session discussed the importance of promoting men’s health, which I oftentimes do not think of since my focus is maternal and child health.  Another great session is one that I had always planned to attend, and it discussed health workers in areas of conflict.  There was an amazing presentation titled, “Jewish Physicians in the Ghettos and Camps During the Holocaust.”  This talk was different than most, because it discussed public health in the past instead of looking at the present and the future.  It was amazing to learn about the public health projects that took place in the ghettos, and the risks the Jewish physicians took to better their conditions.

Besides attending amazing sessions, I decided to spend a lot of time in the expo this year.  The expo was a little intimidating for me last year when I had only just begun my MPH.  But, now that I am about to graduate, I took the opportunity to visit organizations where I would like to work.  Several of these organizations gave me a list of job vacancies that I am now qualified for.  Hopefully I’ll be working for one of them and sitting at one of their booths next year when APHA is in New Orleans.

Meghan Ballard, an MCHLT Scholar, completed her MPH, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health, in December 2013. She currently works as a pediatric nurse.

January 29, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

APHA in a Nutshell

By Allison Talan, MsC

Having never been to APHA, I entered the conference feeling nervous, anxious and excited. The nerves quickly disappeared after stepping into the general opening session and the excitement took over after hearing sentiments from Sarah Weddington, Sir Michael G. Marmot, and Mayor Thomas Menino.

My favorite part of APHA was attending various oral sessions in my field of interest.  I was able to network with people who I could imagine collaborating with in the future and even put my nerves aside to attend the LGBT business meeting. These experiences are what really made the APHA! I also was able to connect with friends, peers and old colleagues who live in various states across the country. That was an unexpected treat.

Overall, learning and hearing about the innovative work that is being conducted in my field of interest was really invigorating and insightful. I am very excited for APHA next year in New Orleans!

Ali Talan is a first-year DrPH student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests focus on risk behaviors during adolescence and the transition into adulthood, as well as health disparities in sexual minorities, HIV prevention, and the relationship between mental and sexual health.

January 28, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

APHA- Not For Me

By Ana Bales, BS

This year was my second opportunity to attend APHA, and despite feeling more prepared entering into the experience this time, I learned a lesson that I was not expecting: APHA is not for me.

Let me explain. APHA is a wonderful conference, especially for students trying to get their bearings on what public health has to offer and where they belong in the field and for professionals trying to build and maintain broad networks of contacts.  The former is both why I enjoyed the conference so much last year and why I feel that APHA is not for me, at least for the time being. Since last year, I have become much more focused in both my degree and career trajectory after realizing my passion for child abuse prevention.

Since my path to a career in this field is in its fledgling stages, I think I would benefit the most from attending smaller conferences focused solely on my interest so that I am able to maximize my time learning from and networking with established professionals in my field.  This was reinforced by the general lack of sessions dedicated to child abuse prevention at APHA this year. Though this forced me to think critically and be creative in my search for sessions that could be applied to my desired field and resulted in my seeing several interesting presentations I might have otherwise missed, at this stage in my education I think I would have benefited more from sessions directly addressing child abuse prevention. So, for the time being I plan on seeking other conferences that will help me grow as a young professional until I am established enough to return to APHA with something of my own to contribute.

Ana Bales is a second-year MPH student and MCHLT Scholar, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in December 2015. She works on projects focused on child abuse prevention.

January 27, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

From Intimidated to Inspired

By Helena Likaj, BA

Prior to attending APHA I had many mixed emotions on how the experience was going to be. I found myself anxious, intimidated, and questioning what did I get myself into. As a first semester public health student I am very new to the field of public health and the thought of being surrounded by established public health professionals terrified me. Before I knew it I had no more time to worry and I was ready to be thrown into the APHA experience.

My first experience at APHA was the MCH networking event. When I heard that we were going to be speed networking my heart dropped. What did I have to offer? What would I say? These are a few of the many questions that raced throughout my mind as we began sitting at our assigned tables. As the speed networking began I found myself focusing less on myself but more on the stories and interests those surrounding me shared. That set the precedent for the rest of my APHA experience. Yes, I was there to grow personally but through self-reflection of what others were presenting and offering could I best grow.

I found myself inspired throughout APHA. The opening ceremony gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. I was truly moved. The feeling of being surrounded by strangers of all different backgrounds is a strange feeling. This feeling was easily diminished by the similarity we shared, our passion for public health.  We all have a desire to better the lives of those around us somehow and there is something powerful to that. I was inspired, motivated, educated, and emotional during the entire APHA experience. I am already looking forward to next year’s APHA experience but am holding onto the experiences, knowledge, and memories I gained this year.

Helena Likaj is a first-year MPH student and MCHLT Scholar, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.

January 24, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Food for Thought

By Caroline Kusi, BA, MPH

One of the many aspects I enjoyed about APHA was the Maternal and Child Health breakfast meeting with other students and faculty.  I truly appreciated the set-up of the breakfast and how students could easily move from table to table.  I felt honored to be able to engage in conversations with various faculty and professionals with different areas of research and backgrounds.  I also enjoyed listening to other students express their research interests and ways in which they were actively pursuing their research and professional careers.

One of the things I found very valuable about the breakfast was the advice that faculty members gave students about finding a balance between practice and research.  I think oftentimes students like myself wonder how we can combine both practice and research in our careers and having affirmation that it is possible was refreshing. I learned that it is important to be receptive to doing things outside of your research interests.  Further, I was very thankful to hear faculty stress the importance of diversifying our skills in order to be competitive for various job positions.  I left the session knowing that I needed to enhance my data analysis, statistical software, and data interpretation skills in order to be a better professional.  I also learned the importance of being flexible about positions I seek and attain in the future because every opportunity in public health gives you skills that can be used in other future contexts.

I was privileged to be able to speak with a faculty member from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about ways in which I can utilize my summers as a doctoral student in order to strengthen my research skills and gain practice experience with a potential international health organization I would hope to conduct research for.  I was grateful to receive helpful advice based on her own experiences in working internationally both in research and practice.  All in all, the breakfast was an invaluable experience.

Caroline Kusi is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. Her research interests include maternal and neonatal mortality, capacity building, and implementation science. 

January 23, 2014 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

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