2017 Undergraduate Awards

May 31, 2017

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2017 School of Public Health Undergraduate Programs Impact Awards!

Many Brown Public Health concentrators arrive at Brown intending to pursue pre-med. Then they take Introduction to Public Health, or Health Care in the United States. These popular courses often help students realize that health and healthcare can be studied from multiple perspectives.

Sarah Eltinge, this year’s winner of the Excellence in Public Health Honors Thesis Award, is such a student. “When I came to Brown I thought I wanted to be pre-med and study biology,” she said. She took the two introductory Public Health courses “because people on my freshman floor were taking those classes.”  What she learned changed her trajectory. “I realized you can analyze things at the population level, and take that perspective to start answering some really big important questions.” A Public Health and Statistics double concentrator, Sarah found she could apply her math and computational skills to real world health problems. She will be working as a data analyst at Johnson & Johnson’s new technology center in Providence before pursuing graduate school and a career in academia.

Sylvie Bertrand, this year’s winner of the Academic Excellence in Public Health Award, also had a vague idea of studying biology but didn’t know what public health was, and had no intention of becoming a doctor. But she took Health Care in the United States and then got a job as an emergency room scribe. “It was interesting to see how public health issues, like access and quality, come into play in an ER setting.” She now plans to attend medical school and hopes to “incorporate public health measures into practice as a physician.” Sylvie will be working as a clinical research assistant at the Institute for Aging Research in Boston studying delirium in post-surgical patients before applying to medical schools.

Gerardo Arteaga, this year’s winner of the Outstanding Service to Brown Award, thought he’d study biology and political science when he arrived at Brown. “After I took Intro to Public Health, I realized that Public Health was a really nice balance of the two.” And he was a public health natural, donating his time to health education and advocacy programs throughout his time at Brown. Gerardo volunteered as a nutrition teacher at Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket, teaching healthy nutrition to high school students using the school garden and nutrition and cooking lessons. He also volunteered as a Spanish Interpreter at the Rhode Island Free Clinic. Last summer he worked as a research assistant in Mexico's Institute of Public Health investigating sexual risk behaviors among vulnerable populations. Gerardo says he’s “learned a lot about the need to advocate for health policy that ensures every person has access to physical activity opportunities and healthy food within their communities.” He will be heading back to his home state of California for a gap year before applying to medical school.

Kate Magid, not surprisingly this year’s winner of the Academic Excellence in Public Health Award, knew even before arriving at Brown that she wanted to study public health. “The School of Public Health was actually one of the things that attracted me to Brown,” she said. The Intro to Public Health course solidified her desire. “I was really attracted to the idea of improving health and addressing health disparities at the community level.” Kate is in the combined AB/MPH program and will remain at Brown to complete her MPH. Her thesis work with Patricia Risica and Dr. Megan Ranney will explore gaps in students’ CPR knowledge and confidence in performing CPR, and their willingness to perform CPR.

Stanley Muñoz, this year’s winner of the Outstanding Community Service Award, started at Brown as a neuroscience concentrator. He discovered a passion for public health working as an advocate with Brown’s Connect for Health program (formerly Health Leads).  He also worked as TA for Introduction to Public Health. But his interest in public health came together with his love of dance while working as a mentor and dance instructor at the Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, a downtown Providence high school. “That was when I recognized that dance and performing arts programs can impact the health of under-served students. Performing arts initiatives build social skills and professional skills,” he said, “but they also provide a social network. I’ve seen growth in so many students.” Stanley, a member of Brown’s Impulse, Mezcla, and Fusion dance companies, examined the effects of performance-based initiatives on under-served communities for his capstone project. “It’s not just about improving your physical health,” he said.  “So many aspects of performing arts can impact mental health and psychological well-being for the positive.” Stanley is headed to New York City to dance professionally but he brings his public health training with him. “I hope to continue mentoring students in New York and supporting the communities that I’m a part of,” he said. “If I’m not here for the community, who am I here for?”

These remarkable students were honored at Commencement 2017 for their accomplishments. Congratulations to all five undergraduate public health award winners!