Alumni profile – meet Christine Cardinal, JD, MPH


Published: August 5, 2019

By Sally Crocker

CardinalCardinal is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health, College of Health Sciences, at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. She has been on the SHSU faculty for three years.

Her teaching areas include health law and ethics, health policy and multicultural health care studies.

“I work to cultivate students’ interest in population health, and every semester I have the privilege of taking their work outside the classroom with academic community engagement projects,” Cardinal says. “We primarily work with Ryan’s Challenge, a nonprofit that supports families with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare, genetic disease.”

Cardinal serves on the organization’s board of directors, and her students over the last three years have worked to help educate legislators, patients and the public about the disease.

She is a 2013 graduate of the UNTHSC MPH – Professional Option degree program, and practiced law before pursuing a career in education.

Cardinal says her experiences as a cancer patient and as the mother of a child with a rare genetic disease inspired her to research, publish and teach health ethics, law and policy.

“Helping one client at a time as an attorney, while admirable, didn’t affect change to the degree I could in one semester as a professor with 250 students and published research,” she said.

Her advice for current students: “Unpaid volunteering and networking pay tenfold in the future. Don’t commit yourself so completely to one career path that you limit your options. It’s always good to have a Plan B. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone,” she says. “Interdisciplinary connection is essential, and no one expects you to be an expert on everything. Learn from each other.”