George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

The ASTHO-Mason Fellowship: Preparing the Next Generation of Public Health Leaders

November 12, 2019

As a student aspiring to earn a Masters in Public Health at George Mason University, Joselyn Carballo wondered what a career in public health might entail and wanted to hone the skills required to protect communities from public health threats like climate change and toxic chemicals in our environment.

To achieve her goals, Carballo discovered and applied for the ASTHO-Mason Fellowship, a three-year fellowship that provides practical experience working alongside public health professionals at the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) while completing her MPH at Mason.

The fellowship is made possible by the ASTHO-Mason Collaborative for Applied Public Health Practice, a collaboration designed to prepare the next generation of research and practice leaders in public health.  The Collaborative will increase access to public health education and training through student fellowships, applied practice and policy research, and academic and continuing education programs for public health students and professionals.

As the inaugural ASTHO-Mason Scholar, Carballo has joined ASTHO’s Environmental Health team, which focuses on matters such as food and water safety, vector borne diseases, and climate change. In just her first two months as a Fellow, Carballo combed through state and territorial health agency websites to identify state climate adaptation plans and other related state health agency climate resources. Carballo then built an interactive map for ASTHO members to quickly locate these resources. She is an integral member of the team and has been exposed to responsibilities such as assisting with grant deliverables, facilitating the payment of contractors, scheduling meetings, and building relationships with state health agency staff.

“A program like the Fellowship will help students think broadly about what public health careers are out there. Many students are not aware of the depth and breadth of opportunities-for a program to provide first-hand experience is very instructive,” says Kathleen Dolan, Director, Environmental Health, at ASTHO. 

“In just the past two months, my time at ASTHO has helped me better understand what public health officials do. I knew I liked the breadth of public health, but wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my career.  Now, I am able to explore the facets of being a public health official and a staff member at a membership organization. A Fellowship like this is beneficial to anyone going into an MPH program,” says Carballo.

Carballo has learned to create interactive story maps to visually relay complex data and has interacted first-hand with state health officials. “Most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of relationship building in achieving goals,” she says, “I am applying what I’ve learned in class to my work at ASTHO and have applied what I’ve learned from ASTHO to my classes.  Just last week, I cited an ASTHO brief on PFAS in class when talking about current events.”

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