The end of a graduate course is usually marked by a project presentation or defense, a moment for students to show the work that they have done and interact with others interested in the subject. With so many different subjects being pursued inside a division, however, it can be easy for students to miss the true scope of work being done by their peers in a graduating class. This is not the case for the graduating class of Public Health master’s students, however, as they recently met together to share their research work in the form of presentations and posters in one of the largest Capstone Presentations events that the divisions have seen.
The event featured research from students examining many different aspects of public health, from epidemiology, racial and socioeconomic barriers to health care, global health, and many others. Students who presented were taught and mentored by Sharon Talboys, The format followed that of a mini conference: a select group of students gave short presentations to their peers, while others set up posters for classmates to review. Peer students were given the opportunity to ask questions about each other’s work and discuss how the specialties of public health influence each other and work together.
Jocyce Gaufin, former president of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and adjunct faculty in the division, provided opening remarks to the event. She spoke of the need for public health experts to be resilient and committed as they work to bring better health outcomes the communities they serve. “Public health has a bright future. There are many challenges, but we aren’t running a sprint,” she told the attendees. “We are in this for the long haul. Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back, but like a marathon runner, always keep your eyes on the prize.” She went on to praise the spirit of the public health servants, saying “People working in public health today are as committed, prepared, and passionate as prior generations. They are ready to serve, and they are ready to assume leadership.”
The event was not the first time sharing research for many of the presenting students. Several 2023 cohort students have been accepted to present at public health conferences and symposia, demonstrating the excellence in research that the division is known for. Two Division of Public Health students were recently highlighted by UPHA as the best in their group. Logan Waechtler won Best Oral Presentation for his presentation titled “Perinatal depression trends in Utah and the role of nurses and integrated behavioral health professionals,” while Mary Katherine Curcio won Best Student Poster for “Policy Analysis of Utah Support and Diagnosis Services for Autistic Young Adults.”