Students in the West Virginia University School of Public Health undergraduate program are one step closer to graduation. A week prior to Commencement ceremonies, the soon-to-be alumni shared highlights of their field placement efforts during the school’s poster session that caps off the semester.
During their final semester in the program, all undergraduate students complete a field placement as their culminating coursework. The placement with a local or regional agency or institution includes 60-75 hours of the students applying their knowledge and skills to public health practice. Upon completion of their field hours, students develop a poster to showcase all that they have learned and accomplished.
“The 27 students graduating this December contributed more than 1,600 hours to 17 organizations serving the public health needs of our community,” shared Audra Hamrick, director of public health practice and service learning. “The community partners our students worked with expressed gratitude for all the students contributed and feel confident that our graduates will be vital to the public health workforce.”
Among the 17 partners were local community organizations, like Girls on the Run of North Central West Virginia and Conscious Harvest Cooperative, as well as groups within the West Virginia University community.
Megan Govindan, a WVU School of Public Health alumna and director of community leadership and social action for the WVU Center for Resilient Communities, serves as a mentor for two field experience organizations – Conscious Harvest Cooperative and the WVU Health Equity Lab.
“Public Health practicum students were able to gain hands-on experience with community food access agencies, public health agencies, researchers, academics and grassroots leaders,” Govindan said of the experience. “The organizations benefited from the knowledge, leadership and accountability of students, and the poster session allows students and the organizations to showcase and celebrate the hard work and collaboration of so many.”
Alexa Harris is just one student who was able to work with Govindan during her field experience in the Health Equity Lab.
“The capstone experience was valuable to me because it was an opportunity to apply the concepts I have been learning about in my public health classes over the past four years to a real-world project,” Harris said.
For students who are currently in the Public Health program, Harris said “One piece of knowledge I would pass on to students who are preparing to participate in their own capstone experience is that there is a great deal of variety between and even within our community partner organizations. What you will be doing might not look like what other students are doing, and that is okay. There is a lot to be gained from a field placement with any of these organizations.”
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