To recognize this year’s National Public Health Week, UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health (UNTHSC – SPH) students sponsored a Creative Health Innovations Contest, shared their favorite healthy foods and family/regional dishes at a “Cultural Potluck” event, and teamed up to participate in the Victory Over Violence 5K/1K run/walk sponsored by The Women’s Center of Tarrant County.
The Reverend Ralph W. Emerson Jr., Rising Star Baptist Church pastor and chair of the JPS Health Network Board of Managers, presented the week’s keynote address on the topic, “It’s Not About Me: Supporting Healthiest Nation 2030.”
Dr. Emerson’s speech recognized the 20th anniversary of the American Public Health Association’s week-long event and the country’s goals for a healthier future.
Students with ideas for improving the world, making a positive change in public health, educating the community on important topics, and creating something new that makes a difference or touches lives in a positive way were invited to enter a Health Innovations Contest.
Behavioral and Community Health MPH student Kwynn Gonzalez Pons was selected as the winner, presenting her idea for a “Safe Move bracelet” to help law enforcement agencies rescue victims of sex trafficking. Fitted with a GPS-like device, the tool could be worn as a bracelet, or its microchip could be removed to hide in a shoe or pocket to help minimize risk of detection by abductors. Safe Move bracelets and instructions could be placed in hot-spot trafficking areas, such as airports, bus stations and hotel lobbies, possibly saving countless lives of adults and children in the U.S. and abroad.
Student networking events and a Friday “Fun Day” with outdoor games and activities were also part of the celebration.
The week finished with an end-of-year celebration where student, faculty and staff special honors were presented.
MHA candidate Martin Ostensen, JD, MBA, was presented the Richard S. Kurz Award, given to an outstanding public health graduate exemplifying the leadership, accomplishments and visionary qualities of the school’s Dean. This award was established by faculty leadership in 2012.
MPH Behavioral and Community Health student Jessica Austin was presented with the Leon Brachman Award, in honor of the community leader and philanthropist who helped establish the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 1999. This award is given annually to a public health student in the MPH or MHA program demonstrating exemplary academic achievement in his or her graduate course of study.
Receiving the Bob Crow Award was Irene Reyes, who is pursuing her MPH in Behavioral and Community Health. This award is named for the former executive director of the Texas charitable Amon G. Carter Foundation and past member of the school’s Steering Committee, recognizing an outstanding MPH or MHA student with exemplary leadership and service to the school and community.
This year’s Kenneth Cooper Award winner was Ian Watt, MPH Dual-degree Anthropology and Behavioral Health student. The award – presented to an outstanding MPH or MHA student demonstrating excellence and quality in the application of research methods for the thesis or other research activities – is named for best-selling author and internationally known health/wellness guru Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, who started the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas in 1970 and pioneered the concept of preventive medicine and healthy lifestyle.
Dean’s Awards were presented to Saritha Bangara, Epidemiology PhD candidate, for Scholarly Excellence and to Taibat Salami, Behavioral and Community Health MPH candidate, for Academic Achievement.
The school’s Public Health Student Association honored faculty and staff with their own awards as well.
Erin Carlson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Management and Policy, was presented with the Outstanding Faculty Award, and Sumihiro (Sumi) Suzuki, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, was named as Outstanding Advisor. Diana Crenshaw, Admission and Academic Services Administrative Officer, was honored as Outstanding School of Public Health Staff for 2015.