National Public Health Week is Almost Here!!! April 4-9!!!

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Student Spotlight – Leah Reish

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  1. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I am from Cleveland, Tennessee. A small city in East Tennessee outside of Chattanooga.

  1. What previous degrees and educational experiences have you earned?

Straight out of high school I went to cosmetology school. I graduated, but decided I wanted to further my career. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics with a minor in Chemistry at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

  1. What has been your favorite part about moving to Memphis and what has been the most difficult adjustment?

At first, the most difficult adjustment was moving to a big city that my husband and I knew nothing about (except Elvis). My favorite part about moving here was getting involved in the MPH program and Soma Ministries on campus. Through both of these programs, I have made numerous friends that I am thankful for every day.

  1. What got you interested in public health?

During my last year at UTC, we had an assignment to find our “dream job” on the internet. I had no clue where I wanted to work, but as I researched I found an Epidemiologist position at the CDC. After turning in the assignment, I did not think anything of it until I attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) where I talked to many Dietitians that also have MPH’s. That is when I realized I wanted to go into public health and pursue my “dream job” of becoming an Epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I have always wanted to do mission work and/or work for a non-profit organization. With this goal, not only can I work globally/domestically in public health, but I can also incorporate the field of mission work.

  1. Why did you choose our MPH program?

I only applied to two schools; both being in the state of Tennessee. The University of Memphis was actually my first choice and the first school that accepted me into their program. When I received my acceptance letter I knew that it was the right decision.

  1. What do you like most about our School of Public Health?

There are multiple things I like about our School of Public Health. I love how involved we can be not only on campus, but in our community through different opportunities given to us. I also like being able to see the same classmates throughout our classes. It is nice to be able to establish lasting relationships in something you share a passion for with others.

  1. What one public health change would you like to see in the Memphis area?

I would like to see the vast difference of socioeconomic status change for the better. Coming from Chattanooga, I am used to seeing sections of the city with poverty, but I have never experienced it differentiating street to street. To me, it is crazy to think that one street over from a wealthy neighborhood can be one of the poorest neighborhoods in Memphis.

  1. How would you like to apply your MPH degree to your future goals and career?

I want to work with infectious diseases, either at the Tennessee Department of Health or in a fellowship through the CDC upon graduation. After this, my husband and I plan to move to Africa for some time and I would want to work globally for the CDC or another organization. My ultimate long-term career goal is to work in Atlanta at the CDC headquarters as an Epidemiologist. Wherever I may end up, I hope to make an impact with infectious disease prevention.

  1. What are your hobbies/interests?

I enjoy dancing, sports, fishing, and spending time outside. My favorite shows are The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds.

  1. Name something on your “bucket list”

My ultimate dream is to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) or the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) in person.

Student Spotlight: Stephanie Modert

Introducing Stephanie: The newest member of the Public Health Student Association as our Secretary.

  1. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in rural Southern Illinois

  1. What previous degrees and educational experiences have you earned?

Undergraduate degree in Biology from Illinois Wesleyan University

  1. What has been your favorite part about moving to Memphis and what has been the most difficult adjustment?

My favorite has definitely been the BBQ! The most difficult has been that initially, I didn’t know anyone when I moved here and that was challenging. But after meeting a few close friends through the program, that opened up so many new friendships and made the transition to a new town so much easier. After a few months Memphis felt much more like a small town!

  1. What got you interested in public health?

When I learned there was a solution that involved preventing chronic diseases instead of treating them after the fact.

  1. Why did you choose our MPH program?

Short answer? Shril Sharpe.  Long Answer: Additionally, I was attracted to the Practicum project that was unique to the University of Memphis.  It gives us the freedom to apply what we’re learning in the classroom and make a difference in the community that’s my new home.

  1. What do you like most about our School of Public Health?

How invested our professors are in helping us succeed.  And being surrounded by so many motivated classmates and professors.

  1. What one public health change would you like to see in the Memphis area?

I have a special interest in the movement to reduce rates of obesity so I’d like to see efforts centering around food deserts.  Personally, I’m excited to start my internship with Le Bonheur’s Obesity Clinic to contribute.

  1. How would you like to apply your MPH degree to your future goals and career?

My goal is to work as a family practice physician and I look forward to using my experience in public health to treat patients within the context of their community and social/work life.

  1. What are your hobbies/interests?

Anything outdoors, hiking, running, camping

  1. Name something on your “bucket list”

Visiting every MLB ballpark