| The 2022 Stead Scholars stood side by side, smiling and holding certificates of achievement as they took a group photo after the program closing ceremony.
Meanwhile, family members of academics, as well as public health professionals from the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas (UAMS) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), recorded the moment with their cell. cell phones and beamed with pride knowing that they had played a role in developing future public health experts.
Raven Beck, Alexandria Cade, Khariana Hobbs, JaKory Thomas and Benjamin Trussell have earned the honor of being this year’s Stead Fellows. The program is an eight-week paid internship that allows a select group of undergraduate students to gain practical experience in the field of public health.
“The program has become very popular,” said Joe Bates, MD, MS, the college’s associate dean for public health practice. “It serves as a comprehensive introduction to public health for trainees. Many college students have an interest in a health-related career. Studying public health is exactly what they are looking for. Over the years, many Stead Scholars have become excellent graduate students for us.
Hobbs, an alumnus of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, said her Stead Scholar experience was amazing, like a cheat sheet into a future career in public health.
“The program gave me confidence. I now know that I can work in public health,” Hobbs said. “The program has given me more than I could have imagined. In some internships, it is as if you were doing heavy work. But being a Stead Scholar – I was doing legitimate work, research, writing part of an introduction to a manuscript. It made me feel like an equal, not just an intern.
As Stead Scholars, Hobbs and his cohorts worked under the tutelage of public health professionals. Each student was assigned to a specific area of public health while also learning other aspects of the field. This type of education will prove invaluable to students, said Kevin Ryan, JD, associate dean of student affairs and college alumni.
“The Stead Scholars program is an exceptional platform that exposes high-achieving undergraduate students to public health,” he said. “It’s always a pleasure to interact with the students, because they are often eager to learn and work. »
Established in 2012, the Stead Scholars program is named after William Stead, MD., a former longtime employee of ADH. A group of college and ADH public health professionals select students for the internship. Each scholar must make an in-depth presentation of their mission during the Stead Scholars closing ceremony.
This year’s students were the first Stead Scholars since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chaos and worldwide cancellations caused by COVID-19 have affected and motivated people in various ways, including Trussell.
A native of Little Rock who attends the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Trussell wants to be an epidemiologist who also specializes in working with the general public, protecting them from viruses such as COVID-19. He said the opportunity to learn about epidemiology and societal trends makes being a Stead Fellow a lot of fun.
“The program provides great insight into what the Arkansas Department of Health does and what makes UAMS a college of public health and how it impacts the state,” Trussell said. “By being a Stead Scholar, a person can learn a lot about society, even if they don’t specialize in public health.
“I have a passion for making the world a better place. I realized that public health is a perfect way for me to do what I really want to do in the world.
Beck – an alumnus of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville – has a bachelor’s degree in public health. The Stead Scholars program gave the Siloam Springs native the real-world public health opportunity she was hoping for.
“I learned skills that I never imagined I would receive by enrolling in the program,” she said. “I learned the importance of communication, how to conduct qualitative interviews, how to collect and analyze qualitative data and how to give a professional presentation. I learned how different population groups face far greater health disparities than other groups. It motivates me to be part of creating positive change for those who face health care disparities.
Thomas, who attends Philander Smith College, first became interested in public health after completing a school project on black maternal mortality. The mission struck close to home as Thomas lost a loved one and her unborn child, both of whom died during pregnancy. Thomas – originally from Warren – kept this situation in mind while learning about public health and different research methods.
“I liked attending the meetings of the professionals and seeing how they make decisions,” he said. “I enjoyed working in the ADH public health laboratory. I was like a kid in a candy store. I realized that public health affects us in every way you can imagine. Public health is everywhere.
Cade, a Little Rock native who attends Hendrix College, appreciates any opportunity to receive new information. For this reason, she highly recommends the Stead Scholars program to anyone interested in a career in public health.
“This program is a real introduction to working in public health,” she said. “My assigned project, early microbiome programming, was technical. But I had the chance to learn a new coding language. It was very fun because I like to learn.
“Throughout the program, I learned a lot. Mentors make sure you understand what public health is.
Much to the delight of the program supervisors, Cade and his classmates shone brightly. The group made the return of the Stead Scholars rewarding for everyone involved.
“Most of the scholarship recipients are in the process of completing their respective undergraduate degrees, but their final presentations were superb,” Ryan said. “If you didn’t know better, from their presentations, you would have thought they were one of our graduate students in the Masters of Public Health.” I attribute this to the intelligence of academics, as well as the guidance of their mentors.