Public Health Students Gain Insights, Network, at Professional Conferences

Public Health Students Gain Insights, Network at Professional Conferences

Public health students and faculty at The Connecticut Public Health Association conference.

Two conferences this fall allowed both undergraduate and masters-level public health students the opportunity to learn about emerging best practices in the field and to network with professionals.

The Connecticut Public Health Association (CPHA) conference in October focused on the intersection of environmental health and justice, with the principle understanding that environmental justice is both a human right and a public health issue.

“This conference is small and very student-centered,” said Anthony Santella, DrPH, director of the master of Public Health at the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies. “Our MPH students, as well as undergraduate students studying public health, were able to attend, which gives them the chance to explore what people are doing locally to address issues of public health significance, meet other public health students and faculty, and to make connections with professionals for internships or jobs.“

The conference also gave students a chance to present their research. Bailey Campagna, MPH’24, in collaboration with Matthew Schirano, teaching and learning coordinator at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, and Dr. Santella, presented on the inclusion of transgender and gender nonconforming health curricula in U.S. medical schools. After the presentation, “I was lucky to speak to a few people who showed real interest in the research. The lectures also introduced me to topics I was less familiar with, such as air pollution from micro particles,” said Campagna. “Everyone seemed to want better human conditions in any way they could, and the overall sentiment was that any topic or area of study was permitted for discussion.”

Larry Cass, MPH’24, noted “attending the CPHA 2023 annual conference had a profound impact on me. Most importantly, it allowed for a connection between the Fairfield University MPH program and inspired attendees to take meaningful action, turning awareness into advocacy for a healthier, more equitable world.”

Exploring the range of career avenues with a degree in public health was also important. “I was with an amazing group of professors and students who introduced me to opportunities I had no idea about,” said Lucy Kraut ’24. “I believe this opportunity helped me see a brief example of what it may be like when people start interviewing me for job, which will guide me in the future." 

The larger American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in mid-November drew over 1,200 professionals from around the country and was the perfect forum for a number of students to showcase their research. Kelsi McCarthy, ‘22, and Undergraduate Program Director Kimberly Doughty, MPH, PhD, presented on the correlation between sleep habits and behavior in young children. Cass and Schirano examined the health aspects of multiple generations living within an intergenerational community, and Dr. Santella led a presentation on the difficulties, extra efforts and expenditures of providing healthcare to the homeless or sheltered populations at federally funded health centers in New York City.

Traveling down to Atlanta was well worth the trip, said Anne Arnold, MPH’24. “The diverse array of sessions, career panels, poster sessions and presentations provided an overview of the multifaceted challenges faced by the public health community in fields I didn’t know about prior to the event,” she said. “Witnessing the dedication and passion of individuals committed to improving public health was inspiring and reinforced my belief in the transformative power of science.”

Rooted in science and social justice, Fairfield’s bachelors and master’s in public health leads students to one of many careers that are prevention-oriented, multi-disciplinary, and promote conditions to protect and improve the health of people and communities.

Learn more about the master’s in public health program at fairfield.edu/mph.

Tags:  Egan School

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