Networking and Vaccine Dinner Club

By: Tori Konrad – 1st year – Global Epidemiology

One of the many reasons I was drawn to Rollins was the many opportunities for networking and learning outside of the classroom. (If networking seems like a novel, scary concept, read on– it isn’t at all!)  Since I’ve been at RSPH, one of my favorite networking events has been Emory’s monthly “Vaccine Dinner Club” (VDC).

Essentially VDC is an evening with RSPH and Emory School of Medicine Faculty and Students, local public health professionals from DPH and CDC, and other interested pro-vacciners that includes:

  1. Free Wine, Cheese, and Goldfish
  2. A wonderful presentation by an expert (usually the expert) in a vaccine related topic
  3. Free Dinner
Sounds great right? It is. We all meet up in the Health Science building to share our collective appreciation for public health and free food.
This month we had an expert who directed vaccine communication initiatives at CDC. He discussed the importance of understanding target audiences and stressed the importance of conveying messages that are well received and understood in terms of vaccine efficacy. Communicating public health messages is crucial — and this flu season has been a great opportunity for us as public health students to use our knowledge to educate family, friends, and others about them importance of vaccinations.
Last semester, one of the VDC talks was given by the authors of the textbook Vaccines. I’ve heard the phrase “they wrote the book on it” used to show that somebody was super qualified, but these presenters literally wrote the book on Vaccines. It was fascinating to hear about all the new material – and a great presentation ( I can honestly say I’ve never enjoyed people talking about new insights in their textbook before that VDC lecture).
You may also find yourself getting some helpful homework hints while networking. At the January meeting, my roommate and I were telling a CDC microbiologist about our winter term class on food and waterborne diseases, and he said “I bet one of the questions on your final will be about rice and B. cereus.” He explained the mechanisms behind and significance of that specific foodborne illness and joked about how it seems to be a popular test topic. This was such a casual conversation in line getting goldfish and cheese with a CDC employee, but thanks to that VDC chat, I had quite the grin when I saw a question about it. *Thanks new VDC buddy!*
Free food really draws in the grad students, but the networking and learning are great opportunities to further education and meet others who also appreciate the significance of vaccinations and public health campaigns, messages, and programs. Hope to see you there next year!