News & Events

In the Field

  • Cristian M. Gomez was awarded a grant by the AU Honors Program and Office of Undergraduate Education to participate in the 2021 AU Summer Scholars & Artists Program. 
  • Sophie Hathaway was awarded a grant for the Robyn Rafferty Mathias Undergraduate Summer Fellowship.
  • Ellie Kight won the Stafford Cassell Award for her outstanding undergraduate achievements.
  • Professor Anastasia Snelling received a grant for $66,000 from DC Central Kitchen for “Evaluation Services for the Healthy School Food Program's Nutrition Education and Engagement Activities.”

  • Professor Ethan Mereish was interviewed for WTOP about his research on the impact of discrimination on LGBTQ teens.

  • Professor Melissa Hawkins spoke to NBC Washington about COVID, kids, and schools.

  • Former Health Studies professor, Katie Schenk, published an op-ed in Scientific American about next steps for public health!

  • Professor Jessica Owens-Young was featured in an article by American University Magazine that highlighted her artistic talents.
  • MS in Health Promotion Alumni, Meena Nutbeam, published her thesis titled, "Negative Attitudes and Beliefs Toward the #MeToo Movement on Twitter" in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence

    Public Health alumni, AshaLetia Henderson, was interviewed for a spotlight article about her journey to become a Public Health Associate for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

  • 1st year Public Health Scholar, Rebeka Rafi, was awarded an MLK Eagle Endowment Grant for her project to support food access among those experiencing homelessness in the DMV area.

  • Professor Melissa Hawkins published an article called Family involvement in pregnancy and psychological health among pregnant black women

  • Health Promotion Management student, Sofia Perez Semanaz, published an article in Catalyst about COVID-19 in Puerto Rico. 

    Five Public Health Alumni were featured in an article from American University Magazine about contact tracing. 

  • Professor Melissa Hawkins wrote a piece for The Conversation about holiday plans in midst of the accelerating pandemic. 

  • Professor Celeste Davis was highlighted in the Blackprint AU, sharing her involvement in public health, activism and mentoring. 

  • Professor Liz Cotter was recently featured in an article in Well and Good titled, "For the Latinx Community, Social Stressors and Intergenerational Trauma Negatively Impact Health—And My Family Is No Exception"

  • Professor Melissa Hawkins offered advice on socially distant Halloween activities and starting a "quaranteam."

    Professor Anastasia Snelling published an article on her corner stores project, which aimed to increase access to fresh produce.

  • Professor Jody Gan was published in the Delaware Journal of Public Health, offering a perspective piece on teaching public health during a pandemic.
  • Professor Melissa Hawkins was featured on the newest CNN expert panel discussion on navigating college re-openings.

  • DHS Junior Brooke Wong published an article in the Journal of the National Medical Association about Racial Disparities in Firearem Homicide.

    Professor Jody Gan was interviewed for a piece on swimming pool safety during COVID-19.

  • Professor Jessica Owens-Young spoke with American Public Media to help the reporter understand racial disparities and the coronavirus pandemic and DC’s response.
  • Professor Melissa Hawkins was featured in an article by the DCist on the region’s rise in Covid-19 cases.
  • Professor Melissa Hawkins was featured in a CNN piece, among others, as part of Sanjay Gupta’s Reopening project on accessing routine health care during Covid-19. 
  • Two students in Dr. Hawkins' summer Seminar course had their final letter-to-the-editor assignments published in The Eagle! Check out their awesome work: Yasmeen Salam wrote about mental health in Covid-19. Olivia Gonyea wrote about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the Navajo Nation.
  • Professor Melissa Hawkins wrote about the potential of social bubbles or quaranteams to reduce risk and avoid loneliness in The Conversation.
  • Professor Melissa Hawkins recently published an article in The Conversation on the 2nd wave of COVID-19 and recent surges across the US. Dr. Hawkins was also featured on a CNN piece, along with other experts, about travel and reopening. 
  • Professors Trina Ulrich and Melissa Hawkins published an article, along with 3 DHS students, on the role of public health in medical education.
  • Professor Melissa Hawkins wrote an article for The Conversation about navigating COVID-19 and fighting loneliness. 
  • Tony Panzera, Trina Ulrich, Stacey Snelling, Amy Treitiak and Christy Lunsford have put together a webinar for Nutrition Education students that details how to make the most of your time with your faculty menor as well as how to prepare for graduation. 

  • Professor Jody Gan recently published an article called Swimming Pool Environment and Respiratory Health Issues Among Masters Swimmers.

  • Graduating senior and member of Sister Circle, Noni Mungai recently wrote this piece that was published in the Blackprint at AU about health disparities and equity. 

    Guadalupe Mabry won the Harold Johnson Award for 2020.

    Rachel Bernardo won the Scott A. Bass Outstanding Scholarship at the Undergraduate Level Award for 2020.

    Jody Gan published an opinion piece in The Eagle called, "Opinion: Why I stuck to the syllabus during a pandemic".

    Elizabeth Cotter published a research article on Perceived discrimination, emotional dysregulation,and loss of control eating in young men in Eating Behaviors, an International Journal. 

  • Six students from the Department of Health Studies placed in various categories at the Mathias Student Research Conference. Congratulations to Jude Zieno(2nd place), Rachel Bernardo (3rd place), Hannah Fuchs (2nd place), Marnina Horenstein (3rd place), Shalini Ramachandra (1st place), and Christian Mendoza Gomez (1st place)! 

  • Anastasia Snelling was awarded a grant by DC Central Kitchen for her “Healthy Corners Evaluation Project.”

  • Professor Jolynn Gardner recently co-published a text book called Health Promotion and Education, 2nd Edition. 

  • Researcher Michelle Kalicki, Sarah Irvine Belson, Robin McClave & Anastasia Snelling published an article in the Journal of Education and Human Development called Healthy Educators, Healthy Children: A Pathway to Lifelong Health Starts in Early Childhood

    Professor Melissa Hawkins, Erin Watts, Sarah Irvine Belson, and Anastasia Snelling published an article in the Journal of Education and Human Development called Design and Implementation of a 5-Year School-Based Nutrition Education Intervention

  • Researcher Elizabeth Brandley published Breakfast Positively Impacts Cognitive Function in College Students With and Without ADHD
  • Alumni Rain Freeman published National Study of Telepsychiatry Use in US Emergency Departments 
  • Student Rachel Geisel received an award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Service and Shalini Ramachandra for Outstanding Achievement In undergraduate Research. Professor Jessica Young was recognized for outstanding faculty mentorship in undergraduate research! 
  • Professor Ethan Mereish recently appeared on an important Kojo show to discuss youth suicide rates and a new report from the CDC. Prof. Mereish gave great insight into the issue and poor mental health outcomes as it relates to LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ youth of color, highlighting an important aspect that the report did not address. The article and show were titled Youth Suicide Rates are Increasing. Whats Happening- And What Can We Do to Stop It? This was his first radio show appearance. 
  • Professor Katie Holton and Elizabeth Brandley attended the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research conference in London, during which Holton chaired the opening session, moderated a symposium, and gave a talk about improvements in anxiety and PTSD observed in Gulf War veterans on a low glutamate diet.
  • Professor Jolynn Gardner presented "Empathy Mapping: Improving Design and Effectiveness of Health Promotion Interventions" at the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference in April.
  • Professor Celeste Davis will participate in Organizing for Health: A Public Health Awakened Training in October as a member of the DC Public Health Awakened leadership team.
  • Professor Jody Gan presented three workshops on self-care and wellness for academic excellence for first generation college students through CollegeTracks Success Orientation in Maryland.
  • Professor Elissa Margolin was invited by the International Human Rights Law Clinic to give a talk on the use of mindfulness as a tool to build resilience and promote professional sustainability, particularly in the context of international legal work that involves vicarious trauma. The class was held on February 22, 2019 and was titled Trauma Stewardship, “Winning” and “Losing,” Sustainability and Professional Identity. 
  • Professor Jessica Young published Does most of your paycheck go to rent? That may be hurting your health in The Conversation.
  • Professor Jessica Young published Associations between Obesity, Obesogenic Environments, and Structural Racism Vary by County-Level Racial Composition. Hear an interview with Dr. Young (starting at 14:36) in Money Alone Can't Save Us: Why Are Black Women Disproportionately Dying During Childbirth?
  • Dr. Jolynn Gardner moderated the Cancer Disparities and Inequities Panel at the National Cancer Prevention Workshop on Capitol Hill on February 6, 2019.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Cotter facilitated a continuing education seminar on February 6, 2019 at Children's National Medical Center titled, "Mindfulness as a Tool to Promote Healthy Eating." This continuing education seminar focused on the use of mindfulness-based interventions to address eating and weight-related concerns, integrating theory and research with practical tools that can be used with clients.
  • Article from Anastasia Snelling, Sarah Irvine Belson, and Emily HeapReconsidering Maslow: The Role of the School Health Policy in a Holistic Approach to Child Health and Wellness
  • Dr. Anastasia Snelling has been awarded Healthy Corner Store Grant from the DC Deparment of Health. The grant will evaluate the corner store program to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in Wards 5, 7, and 8. This grant is targeted to SNAP recipients. The project will provide monetary incentives to SNAP customers every time they purchase fresh produce by giving them a $5.00 coupon to be used on their next purchase of fresh produce.
  • Dr. Kathleen Holton was an invited speaker at the 2018 Multiple Sclerosis Wellness Research Symposium in Portland, OR on October 30, 2018. Dr. Holton's talk was titled “Utilizing Antioxidants in MS Research.”
  • Dr. Elizabeth Cotter and Professor Allison Tepper spoke in October 2018 at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo held in Washington, DC.
  • Professor Celeste Davis spoke at Not on My Turf: Strengthening Athletic Communities Against Abuse
  • Professor Elizabeth Cotter has been awarded Common Threads' Community Insight Grant.
  • Jody Gan published Atima, Honduras: Transformative Health Education on the ETR blog.
  • Jessica Young published When It Comes to Your Health, Where You Live Matters in The Conversation.
  • Article from Jolynn Gardner, Anastasia Snelling, and Cynthia Ronzio: Transformational Learning in Undergraduate Public Health Education: Course Design for Generation Z

Alum Spotlight

AshaLetia Henderson

AshaLetia “Asha” Henderson is a former military service member with a 6-year clinical background. She, and has an interest in infectious disease research, epidemiology, immunology, and health education. She is currently a Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Public Health Associate Program (PHAP), assigned to work with the State Medical Countermeasure Coordinator (MCM) at the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee, FL. The Public Health Associate Program is a “competitive, two-year, paid training program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” The focus of her assignment is to work with the MCM on COVID-19 mass vaccination vaccine allocation.

During her undergraduate education, Asha’s passion for public health was solidified while working as a health promotion intern for American University’s Health Promotion and Advocacy Center. While performing in this role, she developed a fundamental understanding of how to create a successful health promotion program by designing her own pilot program, centered around disease prevention through proper hand-washing techniques.

Through this Q&A, Asha provides insight as to how her past work experience and education serve as pillars to her success as a PHAP, and offers advice to current public health students looking to enter the workforce.

What made you interested in becoming a Public Health Associate?

Asha was introduced to the PHAP by Dr. Jolynn Gardner, who is the Director of the Health Studies Public Health Program at American University. When asked about her experience applying to the program, she stated, “I was initially hesitant to apply after seeing the low acceptance rate, but told myself ‘the worst that can happen is they say no…the best is they say yes.’ With that, I went for it, and now I am here in Tallahassee! My interest in public health and the PHAP, stem from a culmination of my experience within the US public healthcare system, and health outcomes as a result of these interactions. What I appreciate most about the Public Health Associate Program, is it provides opportunities for me to apply the knowledge I gained as a student in AU’s public health program, to real community health issues. I feel being a Public Health Associate is broadening my understanding of applied public health systems, while also increasing my awareness of health inequities existing in diverse communities.”

How has your AU Public Health degree prepared you for what you are doing now?

“After I graduated, I realized what I learned in class is truly applicable to ‘real world’ public health issues. I know that sounds strange to say, but when I was a student, I often found myself thinking ‘Do we really need to know this?’ Class after class of lecture slides, presentations, group work, and exams – I felt the information was repetitive. However, I now know there was a reason for this. For instance, AU’s public health program encourages students to familiarize themselves with different public health models of behavior change, with the intent of emboldening students to create or manage health promotion programs. It also allows students to become involved in developing ways to identify and find solutions to emerging health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, through partnerships with key stakeholders. I feel my public health degree prepared me as a Public Health Associate, and helped build my confidence to tackle assigned projects.”

What advice do you have for current Public Health students who are preparing for graduation and looking to enter the workforce?

“My biggest advice for public health students, is to never pursue a dream solely for money, because regardless, it will never be enough. Being a student in Washington, D.C., feels like a never-ending battle of scratching your way to the top of somewhere. When I was in undergrad, we were encouraged, and oftentimes required to complete an internship to graduate. There was this unspoken demand to find a “competitive” internship to secure a “competitive” job after graduating, which I feel weighed heavily on students’ mental health.

When I was attending AU, it was very common to see students running across campus to catch the shuttle bus, hoping it showed up on time, riding through traffic to get to the metro, hoping the train also showed up on time, just to make it across the city to an internship or job that did not pay or paid very little. It was disheartening seeing students fall asleep in class or down cup after cup of coffee, just to make it through the day. This was especially so among pre-med students like me, who frequently stayed up all night studying for a second or third exam that week. Of course, some of this can be attributed to the expected pressure of being in college, but it occasionally felt like overkill.

The field of public health is a vast and ever-changing entity that offers room for all those who want to contributee;, however, as a student of color (SOC), I found it somewhat difficult to find a space that encouraged my ideas and validated my suggestions. One significant reason why I continued pushing forward in my degree, was because I had amazing public health professors. The faculty in the health studies department at American University are phenomenal, but two of which, Dr. Jolynn Gardner and Dr. Katie Holton, I feel had the most impact on me. I am forever grateful for how they educated and took time to get to know me. If you are struggling to find your place in public health, or in life in general, my advice to you is to find some way to ground yourself. This can be as simple as taking the time you would probably spend surfing through an absurd amount of YouTube videos (I am guilty of this too), to take a moment to just breathe and be.

College is just the beginning of a journey to find yourself (whatever that means to you), learning to love yourself, acknowledging your accomplishments, and accepting compliments without feeling the need to justify your presence. Surround yourself with people who truly care about you, and take time to ask if you’re okay. Life can be hard enough as it is, especially right now with the ongoing, and at times, never ending social unrest in the United States, but can be even harder when you feel you are going through it alone. Allow others to help you with what you may need help with. Try your best not to get offended when someone corrects you, because they very well might see something that you may not.

As an alumna of color, I feel the need to specifically address, encourage, and uplift current SOC studying at American University, or any SOC who may be reading this article. As an undergrad student, I felt like I was constantly trying to rise to the surface of an ocean that was not designed for me, just to catch what little breath I could get and/or was allotted. Although we may come from different backgrounds, and our ideologies or ways we relate to others in our environment may vary, it is important you know that your being is valid, you deserve the respect of your peers, it is okay to be yourself, and to remember you are not alone. I feel most times, our survival routinely depends on our ability to “code switch.”

For readers who do not know what code switching is, it is “the action of changing our behaviors, speech, dress, and mannerisms to conform to a different cultural norm depending on context.” Asha continued saying, “There may come a time when you will not only have to stand up for yourself, but also for others. The fight for equity requires strength of many. Please know you are supported and have allies. Find them, partner up, have those difficult conversations, and try your best to continue to persevere through your struggles. You will need to find positive and healthy ways to block out the static of life. Beauty comes in all shades; you are one of them.”

Recent Events

On October 27, department chair, Dr. Stacey Snelling moderated a webinar featuring Dr. Margo Wootan, DSc- President of MXG Strategies, on Supporting Health through Food Policy. Dr. Wootan is known for her efforts in improving school food, requiring calorie labeling at fast-food and other chain restaurants, requiring trans-fat labeling on packaged foods, improving children’s menus at restaurants, reducing unhealthy food marketing aimed at children, and expanding on nutrition and physical activity programs at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Having been named one of the Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink by Fortune Magazine, she is also a co-founder of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) and the Food Marketing Workgroup.

To provide some context for the scope and importance on Dr. Wootan’s work, Dr. Snelling gave some background on food statistics in the United States. “Food is the number one cause of poor health”, Snelling said. “Unfortunately, now we have surpassed tobacco and therefore, one would say that Americans are sick because of food choices, rather than healthier.” The current pandemic has exacerbated several causes of these outcomes including food insecurity.

Wootan addressed how attention to food and nutrition has skyrocketed since the 1990s, particularly in the political sphere. Much of this attention is due to the push from former first lady, Michelle Obama, and her “Let’s Move!” campaign. It used to be that “I would call and call and call in order to get a meeting with a congressional office and even then, would get the intern or legislative correspondent,” Wootan said. “And over time, just watching that interest grow to where members of Congress or assembly members would call me and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to do something.” This shift also included public interest and concern for better health and the environment. Grocery stores began to stock shelves with organic and plant-based options as the demand for such products grew. Dr. Wootan went on to describe how food marketing changed as a result of increased awareness surrounding nutrition and health outcomes, particularly in schools. “There’s still a lot of work to do and I think the food system still works against people more than it does for them,” she said. But recent changes in policy on the state and local levels have built momentum to the point where “the soft drink and snack food industry felt that their customers no longer wanted soda and junk food in schools and were getting too much bad press to make it work it.”

Dr. Wootan talked about local policies and the Healthy Hunger Free Kids act that pulled unhealthy snacks from schools. She mentioned how food policy changes are affected on every level but the national press surrounding nutrition in communities has helped develop momentum for the movement.

She explained how food manufacturers pay grocery stores to feature their products in high touch areas. Well-funded companies such as Coca Cola, have the resources to place their product in multiple places throughout the store, which markets to a shopper’s subconscious. On average, food manufacturers spend twice as much on marketing in supermarkets than they do on external advertising. Some companies even pay supermarkets to place their product, 25 different places around the store. “A number of advocates around the country, are encouraging supermarkets directly to clean up their act, and instead of promoting junk food so heavily, to switch things around and take control of their shelves,” Wootan said. Policy changes for supermarket regulation are still on a grassroots level but are predicted to experience significant increases in momentum in the coming months.

Dr. Wootan was then asked about her proudest moment in her food policy career. “I think the policy that’s had the biggest impact is Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act,” she said. A USDA study that came out earlier this year showed that the act has improved school lunches by about 40%. She also talked about labeling trans fat on products and ultimately eliminating it from the food supply. This significantly reduced the number of heart attacks per year by about 50,000 and made the policy more equitable. Regardless of education, race, economic status or time constraints, Americans do not have to be conscious of avoiding trans-fat.

A participant questioned why food policy and chronic disease are not a major issue for most politicians, since data shows they cause the majority of health concerns in Americans. Dr. Wootan explained how making prevention a priority is difficult. Things that cause death more suddenly and are out of an individual’s control receive more attention because they are scarier whereas things that kill more slowly, do not receive as much attention. “Its just the way we perceive risk,” she said.

Dr. Wootan used the COVID-19 pandemic as an example: “We’d all agree that the pandemic is terrible…200,000 people have died and its something that should be a priority…but unhealthy eating habits kill three times as many people every year.” Dr. Wootan continued that many people see food choices as an individual choice and think less about the social determinants or marketing that play into our ability to make choices. “Clearly, this is not an individual failing. This is a societal problem.”

To conclude, Dr. Wootan was asked to debunk the myth that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk. She mentioned how the USDA has conducted studies indicating that fruits and vegetables are not more expensive than snack foods. An apple or a banana is generally cheaper than a bag of chips or a candy bar and is often more filling. She also noted how there are ways to shop for household food items that people tend to buy anyway but in a way that’s both health and affordable. “Look at the generic brand whole wheat pasta, rather than the fancy Italian white pasta!” she said. In the end, it saves money on health care costs as well, but for immediate shopping needs, “it does take some education.”

On September 30, 2020, esteemed Health Promotion Management alumni, Wolf Kirsten, Founder of International Health Consulting and Co-Founder of Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces, presented to alumni, current, and prospective students on Global Health Promotion in Times of a Global Pandemic. Moderated by Department Chair, Stacey Snelling, Kirsten provided background on his journey from AU to starting his own consulting company and launching a global healthy workplace awards system. 

Wolf Kirsten began development of the Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces as a result of being part of a World Health Organization (WHO) panel of experts to develop a model that reflected health in the workplace. Areas within the Healthy Workplace model included psychosocial work environment, personal health resources, physical work environment and enterprise community involvement. While this model may have been comprehensive, a rollout strategy was needed to connect the model to the corporate sector. The solution became the Global Healthy Workplace Awards program. 

The awards program drew success as it spread through the corporate world, recruiting various countries, public and private enterprises of different sizes, and government organizations. By using the WHO model, awards are scored based on a questionnaire and proof of execution within the company. A panel of Global Awards judges review the applications and choose two finalists from three categories based on size. The six companies are then invited to the Global Healthy Workplace Summit, where they present on their workplace program and are given a score by the judges that accounts for a percentage of the final score. Since 2013, the summit has been held in a different country each year but will be virtual in 2020.  

“The Global Summit will explore how to build organisational resilience during times of crisis and address business continuity and mental wellbeing challenges featuring key speakers from the ILO, IES, ABCHealth, Optum and Arogyaworld, as well as presentations from the world’s best workplace health programmes from GSK, HSBC, Cognosante, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, APHRC and Swisse Wellness. Plus the findings from the global Working at Home Wellbeing Survey will be released.”

The Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces has also initiated other projects worldwide. Duty of Care for non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) was examined to help to create uniformed standards for employee wellbeing. The Healthy Investments project is a study into how investors and financial institutions perceive healthy workplaces in valuing their portfolio, outside of financial indicators only. Another current global project is the Working from Home Wellbeing Survey which uses an instrument developed by the Institute of Employment Studies in the UK to assess the impact of working from home on a global scale. Finally, the Global Centre launched the Global Alliance for Healthy Workplaces in 2016 which brings together key international organizations and leading corporations for a stronger global voice and alignment of initiatives.

The Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces provides a space in which organizations worldwide can come together to achieve a higher standard of wellness for their employees and seeks to achieve a healthier, more productive working experience, regardless of company size, location or circumstance.

Anastasia Snelling and Necia Freeman on stage

On October 22, 2019, the Department of Health Studies (DHS) hosted Necia Freeman at a screening of the Netflix Oscar Nominated Documentary short,Heroin(E) a panel event for students, DHS faculty, and DHS staff. This documentary details three Hunting West Virginia native's (a fire chief, a judge, and a missionary) quest to save their community from the heroine epidemic in the Region. Missionary at Back Packs and Brown Bags Ministry, Necia Freeman, came to speak on what is being done in the community now, details on drug court, and the future of Huntington. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Anastasia Snelling.

Bob Rosen

Bob Rosen is Chairman and CEO of Healthy Companies International. Bob Rosen is the best-selling author of eight books, including the New York Times bestseller, Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, and the Washington Post bestseller, CONSCIOUS: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life. Bob Rosen presented to faculty and staff in the Department of Health Studies, Human Resources, and AhealthyU about leadership on September 18, 2018. 

Dr. Karambu Ringera

On October 4, 2018, Dr. Karambu Ringera from Meru, Kenya gave an enlightening talk on the importance of empowerment for creating social change. Regardless of a person’s life situation, it is imperative for a person to feel that they have the self-efficacy necessary to take charge of their life. This is essential for improving health behaviors, yet people who come from challenging situations often think of themselves as victims, rather than leaders. Dr. Ringera challenged this paradigm and gave examples of how she is inspiring change in marginalized groups in Kenya by empowering individuals to find change within themselves.

Speaker address crowd beside a slide that says My New Story

The Department of Health Studies showed the documentary, The Liberation, on November 5, 2018. The Liberation tells the story about recovering addicts, former drug dealers, and felons going through the DC Central Kitchen Culinary Training Program. Students from Professor Young’s Living and Dying in DC class and Professor Davis’ Food Justice Matters class attended the event, as well as students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Health Studies. Brendan Canty, one of the directors of the film and Professors Celeste Davis and Jessica Young led a panel to answer questions and discuss the film.

Two women with a microphone at a table speak to a man in a chair.

Health studies group and donated presents

The Department of Health Studies held their fifteenth annual Adopt-A-Family Holiday Party on December 8, 2018. Every year the Department of Health Studies partners with a different organization in order to help families that are in need during the holiday season. This year, the organization that the department selected, United Planning Organization (UPO), was even more special since Dr. Snelling and her team work with UPO to implement nutrition education and wellness programming in their twelve early childhood education centers.

The Department of Health Studies adopted four families from UPO. Faculty, staff, and graduate students from the department were touched by their stories and were excited to be able to help the four families during the holiday season. Over forty faculty, staff and graduate students from the department purchased gifts for the families and attended the holiday party. During the holiday party, presents were wrapped, laughs were shared, and bonds between colleagues and classmates were strengthened.

There were over seventy gifts in total donated, totaling close to $1,700 worth of goods. Each family received winter coats, shirts, pants, shoes, toys, winter accessories, and gift cards. When the gifts were dropped off at UPO, the reactions from the staff were priceless. The staff at UPO were overwhelmed and could not wait to deliver all of the gifts to the families.

panelists Rodrigo Stein, Jessica Rogers, and Molly McGlinchyOn February 19, 2019, the Department of Health Studies (DHS) hosted The Role of Community Organizations in Promoting Health in DC for students, DHS faculty, and DHS staff. Rodrigo Stein, Health Promotion and Health Equity Manager at La Clinica del Pueblo, Jessica Rogers, Development Operations Manager at DC Central Kitchen, and Molly McGlinchy from Capital Area Food Bank led a panel discussion about how their organizations are promoting health in Washington, DC and how students can get involved in their organizations. Professor Melissa Hawkins moderated the panel discussion.

DHS Students and Alumni

The Department of Health Studies hosted the Health Promotion Management & Nutrition Education Networking Event on April 3, 2019. More than 20 alumni and more than 25 students from BS Health Promotion, MS Health Promotion Management, and MS Nutrition Education attended the event. Alumni represented multiple sectors of health, including academic, government, healthcare, nonprofit, and worksite wellness.

Students and alumni were able to talk about their prospective and current career paths and make connections with individuals that have similar interests. Students felt that the networking event increased their awareness about companies and job opportunities in the fields of health promotion and nutrition education.

Thomas Pruski, Deborah Nix, Billy Collins, and Valerie Mitchell Health Where We Worship Panel speaking

On April 2, 2019, the Department of Health Studies (DHS) hosted Promoting Health Where We Worship, a panel event for students, DHS faculty, and DHS staff. Thomas Pruski, Director of Heal the Sick Program, Deborah Nix, Founder and Executive Director of Keys to Canaan, and Billy Collins and Valerie Mitchell from the Cardiovascular Branch of NHLBI led a panel discussion about the benefits and barriers of promoting health in areas of worship in Washington, DC. Professor Elizabeth Cotter moderated the panel discussion.

Illustration of woman in front of a path

Student Life ·

New Wellness Platform Launches for AU Students

AU students now have access to a new tool that can help: a personalized wellness platform, You@American, with self-checks and evaluations to help each student assess their challenges, set their own goals, and support their emotional wellbeing.
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Child holding a sign that says Hungry

In the Community ·

The Growing Hunger Crisis in America

Health Studies webinar examines how COVID is making hunger an urgent issue for more and more Americans
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Kids jumping into a pool

First Person ·

Is It Safe to Jump In?

Every summer, Americans flock to swimming pools to cool off and get exercise. But are they safe? Health Studies Professorial Lecturer Jody Gan shares the latest guidance for safe swimming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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In the Community ·

AU Public Health Scholars “Go Inside the Outbreak”

AU Public Health Scholars Director Melissa Hawkins designed this summer’s Emerging Issues in Public Health Seminar class to focus solely on the pandemic—even as events were unfolding in real time.
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Maryam Tabrizi, BCCRS

In the Community ·

AU Alumna Answers the Call to Lifesaving Work

Alumna Maryam Tabrizi volunteers as one of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad's 150 trained volunteers who respond to an average of more than twenty calls for help each day. Last year alone in 2019, the BCCRS responded to nearly 8,000 emergency calls.
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Battelle-Tompkins Memorial Building

Achievements ·

Banner Award Season for College of Arts and Sciences Students

Congratulations to the 2020 University Student Award Winners!
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