Kevin Weiss, 1st-year Global Epidemiology
Congratulations on your acceptance to Rollins! One of the highlights for the spring semester every year is the school-wide celebration of National Public Health Week (NPHW). This year was a big milestone, as it was the 20th anniversary of the first NPHW. The American Public Health Association (APHA) helps to organize and plan the observance every year as a means of educating policy-makers, the public, and public health professionals. This year’s theme was Healthiest Nation 2030. Take the pledge here to make healthy food and exercise choices and to join the Generation Public Health movement to push for needed change. We can create the healthiest nation in one generation!
The national celebration included an online conversation with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and chat contributions from Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and CDC Director Tom Frieden. The Rollins Student Government Association, in tandem with all of the Rollins student organizations, led Emory’s celebration of NPHW, showcasing the diversity of interests and topics that drive and motivate our student body.
NPHW has daily themes that support the overall theme, and this year, they were particularly thought-provoking and interesting. This year’s themes were: “Raising the Grade,” which focused on how the US trails other countries in measures of good health, “Starting from ZIP,” which focused on geographic and other disparities in health, “Building Momentum,” which focused on the efforts of companies and organizations to promote good health, “Building Broader Connections,” which focused on partnership-building, and “Building on 20 Years of Success,” which celebrated the accomplishments of the public health community.
Rollins hosted a number of different school and student organization events. Monday saw a lecture on an innovative HIV surveillance website, AIDSVu.org, that allows any individual or stakeholder to better understand the HIV epidemic in their community. The Association of Black Public Health Students (ABPHS) and Health Organization for Latin America (HOLA) cohosted a panel discussion on HIV/AIDS, and the Emory Mental Health Alliance (EMHA) hosted a Tibetan monk meditation session.
Tuesday saw Rollins Association for Cancer Prevention and Control (RACPAC) and HOLA provide information on minority cancer health, the Emory Reproductive Health Association (ERHA) host a sexual health Q&A, and the APHA chapter host a lunch on Sexual Assault Prevention. Wednesday saw Jewish Students in Public Health (JSPH) host a Krav Maga session, Academy Health host an interdisciplinary debate, and EMHA host a Mental Health Networking Night.
Thursday included a tabletop exercise on outbreaks with the Student Outbreak and Response Team (SORT), a study break exercise with Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA), trivia with the Rollins Association for South Asian Health (RASAH), and a networking night with the Health Policy and Management Department and the Career Services Office. We all celebrated the warm weather with a school-wide picnic that saw hundreds of people take over the school’s courtyard, and exercised through a glow-in-the-dark Capture the Flag tournament led by the Rollins Outdoors Club (ROC).
Friday’s events included a blood drive to allow students to contribute to an ongoing public health initiative, a scheduled 5k run with Health Educators and Researchers Collaborative (HERC) and the Rollins Peace Corps Community (RPCC), and a bike ride and brew celebration with the Rollins Environmental Health Action Committee (REHAC). The last of the day’s events was a keynote lecture from Dr. Jean O’Connor. Dr. O’Connor is the Chronic Disease Prevention Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health, an Emory alumni who obtained a law degree and a master’s of public health degree before coming back to teach public health law and policy. She brought a great perspective on more non-traditional paths to achieving public health successes, a great way to illustrate the day’s theme of “Building on 20 Years of Success.”
To wrap up NPHW, the Emory Global Health Organization (EGHO), along with their generous hosts, Dr. Roger Rochat and family, hosted the latest edition of their semi-annual picnic on Lake Lanier that concluded our celebration, allowing students to frolic in the sun and take advantage of the beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities that Georgia has to offer. We hope that you’ll join us for next year’s celebration!