Department Updates: Spring 2017

Josiah AlamuA message from Department Chair Dr. Josiah Alamu

I am very pleased to be writing my second “Chair’s Update.” We are currently working with the University administration to restructure our existing MPH program into two separate distinct autonomous programs – MPH General and MPH Environmental Health programs.  Our reasoning is that we wish to take advantage of designating the MPH Environmental Health program as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and  Mathematics) program. STEM programs carry a special benefit for our international students.  The STEM designation provides students on F-1 visas, the opportunity to apply for an extension of Optional Practice Training (OPT)once they graduate from our program. Upon approval, the new MPH Environmental Health program will be assigned a CIP code of 51.2202.

In the past few months, we have collaborated with the community and institutions within the Springfield area to promote important public health prevention and interventions. During the week of December 2016, the MPH Public Health Student’s Club participated in World AIDS Awareness Day on campus. We also collaborated with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Office of Minority Health and the NAACP to screen a movie titled “Thicker Than Blood”. The movie was used to dispel myths and increase awareness and knowledge surrounding HIV, homophobia and stigmatization.

Furthermore, the MPH Department and the Illinois Public Health Association co-sponsored a speaker series event on campus that brought eminent public health practitioners to campus – Conny Moody, Gina Lathan, and Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of IDPH. Dr. Sha delivered a high impact closing for the series entitled “The ­­­­Vision for State Health and the Decision-Making Process in Priortizing Issues.”  We are continuing our partnership with IPDH and IPHA with in-class projects including helping the IPHA develop a public health student engagement initiative.  This initiative will give public health students across the state of Illinois an opportunity to connect with county health departments to work on various projects.  Also, students are completing the Illinois Hepatitis C Epidemiological Profile which compiles essential data which will assist IDPH in their decision making processes.

Finally, the department will host a recognition party for our May 2017 graduating students. At the party, we will give awards to two Outstanding MPH Students, the MPH Marshall, and an awardee of the 2017 MidAmerica Healthcare Executive Forum. All graduating students will receive a formal invitation. The event will take place on Friday, May 12, 2017 at PAC Restaurant starting from 5:00 pm.  Save the date!