Are you a public health alum? Stay in touch!

sciencebuilding-mtstuartWe love our alumni! We have some exciting stuff happening in the CWU Public Health Program and we’d like to keep you posted. At the same time, we love hearing from our graduates about the great work you’re doing in the field. Please join our mailing list below, and send us a note about what you’ve been up to!

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Alumni Highlight: Jolyn Hull

“The beauty of Public Health is that there is always another facet to explore and the opportunities, with a little digging and networking, are endless.”

Jolyn Hull (class of 2014) shares her experience in the CWU public health program, with some valuable advice for students as they enter fieldwork or further graduate studies.

badgephotoWhy did you choose public health as a major?

From the time I was 10 (mostly fueled by sibling rivalry), I was determined to be a lawyer. But, I distinctly remember the day it suddenly felt unappealing. I still have no idea what sparked that feeling, but I knew I no longer wanted to pursue law school. I began looking at different career paths, but couldn’t seem to find one that drew me in. A few months later, I was sitting in my geography lecture and we started discussing population health. I was disturbed by the health status of those in the country we were studying, but also was awakened to the fact that health outcomes in the U.S. are not what they should be either. I wanted to help, but didn’t realize the potential career path until later that day when I overheard a public health student talking about a project she was working on around food access. I asked her what she was studying and she told me public health. I registered for a few classes in the public health program to test it out, and declared my major shortly after a few lectures.

What have you been doing since graduating from the program?

I was a five-years plan kind of person so, when I was offered a permanent position at the end of internship at Swedish Cancer Institute, it only seemed natural to accept. I developed educational tools, algorithms, and processes for patients to obtain information throughout their continuum of care. I sat for my Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, and my 5-year plan started to feel more like my 10 year plan. After about a year at SCI, I decided to pursue my Masters in Health Communication from Boston University which would allow me to continue working at SCI and complete another step in my plan. Almost immediately after beginning the coursework, I felt the urge to return to the “trenches”; I wanted to do community health work again. I struggled a lot with this feeling because I felt secure in my seemingly stable plan, but eventually started started looking out for different opportunities. After a series of well-time connections and a few months of digging, I stumbled across a non-profit called Community Choice Health & Education Institute based in Wenatchee, Wa. I say stumbled because I actually discovered their existence through one of the major health centers in Central Washington that I had been in contact with for a few months around possible employment opportunities. Out of curiosity and a bit of desperation, I reached out and got connected with who I would later find out was the Executive Director. After a few coffee dates, I was offered a position as the Health Education & Outreach Coordinator for the North Central Region of WA. I gladly accepted and am now coordinating the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs throughout North Central WA. Had you asked me what my plan was even 6 months ago, I would have told you a completely different story. But, I found my trench and love being able to serve my community again.

What would you recommend to other students who might want to follow a similar path?

Try things and take chances. What appeared from the outside to most as a step backwards for my career ended up being a fantastic, career-advancing move. You don’t have to stay stagnant and don’t worry what others think. The beauty of Public Health is that there is always another faucet to explore and the opportunities, with a little digging and networking, are endless.

And just for fun…if you were a part of a bicycle, what would you be?

The gears, because I love puns and my life seems to always be shifting… sometimes harder than other times, but it’s necessary!

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New positions and training opportunities

Been out in the field for a year or two? Maybe even have a master’s? Enjoy working with children and families? Interested in a move to the Southwest? Take a look at the announcement for a Case Manager position in Las Cruces

Looking to learn more about smoking cessation, e-cigs, and pregnancy? Check out this free online training, sponsored by the CDC.

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New Feature! Student Highlights

Getting to know your fellow students and those who have gone before you in the program is one of the best ways to really get a feel for the student experience in CWU’s public health program. Check back periodically for interviews with some of your classmates and alumni! Want to be featured? Contact a faculty member to share about YOUR experiences!

Student Highlight: Ellie Wylie, Class of 2015

Ellie Photo.pngAs a recent graduate in the community health specialization (now population health), Ellie Wylie shares her experience with coursework, public health research and fieldwork, and life after graduation.

Why did you choose public health as a major?

I came into Central with the intent of pursuing physical therapy, and then switched to Spanish after my first year. Public health wasn’t really on my radar nor something I knew much about. I’m not exactly sure how I came upon it, but I ended up meeting with one of the program advisors during the beginning of my sophomore year. She told me more about the major, career options, opportunities to work internationally, etc. I really liked the versatility of public health and how it incorporated so many different sectors (healthcare, social services, education, etc.). I declared my major that day and have happily continued in the field since.

What was your favorite class in the program and why?

I had a few favorites, but I think HED 460 Public Health Ethics would be the winner. I really enjoyed the structure of the class, as we debated and analyzed various events that called for ethical evaluations. With there being so many ethical issues in the health and medical field today, I found it to be a very relevant class with a lot of engaging discussion and participation.

What have you been up to after graduating and what is life like on the outside?

After graduating last June (2015), I went on to complete my culminating internship at a community health center close to my hometown. I worked in a program that specifically focused on improving access to healthcare for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. I fortunately loved the work and the program I was a part of, and ended up staying an extra two months.

In the fall/winter following my internship, I worked retail, saved money, and moved back in with my parents (woohoo). I also applied to graduate schools for the following academic year. Come January, I was definitely ready for a new adventure and headed south to Colombia for a few months. At this point, the Zika outbreak was just hitting the region, so it was a pretty interesting time to be there from a public health standpoint. I had a great experience getting to know a new culture, making new friends, trying new foods and learning the language.

I have actually just returned home after Colombia and then going and visiting graduate schools. In the end, I have chosen to attend the George Washington University to pursue an MPH in Community Oriented Primary Care. I will be making the big move to DC in August, but until then I am searching for temporary employment and looking forward to summertime in the PNW.

What advice or recommendations do you have for other students in public health?

For current and future students, my main recommendation would be to get involved. Make connections with your classmates, talk with your professors outside of class, pursue research. Use your resources while you can! Even after I graduated I continued to be in contact with professors and faculty at Central. I was able to continue assisting in research projects, and even attend the National Association of Community Health Center’s CHI & EXPO conference in Orlando, Florida last summer with the help of a faculty mentor. More recently, I am assisting with a manuscript regarding reproductive healthcare, and still remain in contact with a few mentors/faculty.

My advice to other students would be:

  1. Reach out to and keep in touch with your faculty at Central. Their mentorship is invaluable.
  2. Be picky when choosing your culminating internship. You will be spending a lot of time there and it will probably be your first connection into the public health field! Make sure it is somewhere you can see yourself working happily.
  3. Don’t stress too much about being thrown into the real world. I think it is very normal to still have no real idea of what you want to do with your life! Enjoy the ups and the downs and the in-betweens.
  4. If you want to pursue grad school, do your research and start the process early! Consider lots of options, apply to multiple schools, take the GRE at least twice and give yourself a lot of time to gather all the necessary documents!
  5. And finally, if you can, definitely travel!

Just for fun… what song currently sums up your life? Think of it like your theme song.

“Work” by Rihanna because I am probably going to be doing a lot of it in the next two years….



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CWU Offers Sober Living for Students …This is Public Health!

CWU Recovery Outreach Community (CWU-ROC)

The Central Washington University Recovery Outreach Community (CWU-ROC) is a housing and community project built with the idea that students in recovery have a place to call their own. The program has two components; the first is community outreach to support and engage students in recovery and second is housing designed to meet the wellness and recovery goals that celebrates student’s decisions to be in recovery from substance abuse and addiction.

Beginning in fall 2016, Central Washington University is proud to offer Haven House, an on campus living option for students in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. With minimal on campus recovery options nationwide, CWU recognizes the need to support students working toward recovery while also providing a safe and supportive atmosphere for students as they strive to achieve both academic and personal success. The well balanced environment is a lifestyle choice which is academically designed, peer and mentor supported, and career focused. To apply to live in Haven House, please click the link below.

Haven House Application

Image of Green Hall

Additional resources and information can be found at Recovery Campus, as well as the current issue of Recovery Campus magazine. Also, check out the Collegiate Recovery map to see other efforts and programs around the country.

This opportunity was made possible by a grant from Transforming Youth Recovery, a non-profit charity of the Stacie Mathewson Foundation. For more information please contact the Wellness Center at 509-963-3213 or

Print our Rack Card!

Click here to see Ellensburg community resources for individuals in recovery.

Source: (

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Our Students in the Field…


Today’s article in the Guam Post focused on our very own CWU public health students (Melanie Sek pictured above) completing their internships through meaningful study abroad experiences.

While a bustle of activity at the Sinajana Senior Center is not a rare event for the local community center, it is only once a year that they are visited by a group of students from Central Washington University (CWU). For the past two weeks, a group of five pre-nursing and early education students have participated in a study-abroad program to Guam where they have been immersed in the local culture and environment.

From hiking to Pågat Cave to exploring the night market at Chamorro Village, the students have been given a guided tour of the island by Mark Perez, an associate professor with the CWU Department of Health, Educational Administration and Movement Studies. He is also a native of Guam.

For the past six years, Perez has provided students from the university with the unique opportunity to come to Guam and experience a culture different from the one they grew up in. Apart from hiking and beach outings, the students have been involved with the University of Guam Adventure Sports Camp as well as the Sinajana Senior Center.

During “Lunch and Learn” events at the center, students speak with the manåmko’ about their lives, their families and what it was like to grow up on Guam. In the past, the group has collected qualitative data on the local residents, but surveying is not always at the forefront of their agenda. “The manåmko’ are sharing with them what the culture is like here and then a little bit about some health, you know, what is it to lead a healthy life in Guam,” Perez said.

The program isn’t all fun and games though. After the first two weeks of cultural immersion where students get a feel for the local culture and specific challenges of healthy living in Guam, students begin a four-week internship with the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Melanie Sek, a public health and pre-nursing student at CWU, said, “I want to do traveling nursing, so doing something where I actually work with people that are different from the ones I’m used to works best for my future.” A specific question students try to address in their conversations with the manåmko’ is what they feel are the barriers to a healthy diet given the high incidence of obesity and diabetes in the island populace.

While an all-encompassing answer is unlikely to be discovered at this time, the students themselves have found one obstacle is the fact that, as Sek put it, “food (on Guam) is expensive – very, very expensive.” When asked about the response the manåmko’ have toward the students’ annual visit, Mary Torres, president of the Sinajana Senior Center, said, “They’re so happy to share their life. They share their food – they want to eat with them. It makes them feel good that the young ones are trying to learn from them.”


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Great news for public health: Our nutrition facts label is changing – in three years

First lady Michelle Obama announced an important public health win yesterday: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is changing the nutrition facts label in some significant ways, The new changes take effect for large manufactures on July 26, 2018. Smaller companies will have an extra year to comply.

Here’s the FDA guidance (basically a fact sheet and FAQs page rolled into one).

This is HUGE, people!  The changes include – wait for it…. a line for added sugar! That’s right. Went to bed on this news last night and was so happy I could hardly sleep. Woke up this morning and found out I was NOT dreaming!

Seriously DO go out and read the guidance. It’s quick, clear, and if you care about food and healthy eating you will do a little happy dance.

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Great Changes Happening for CWU Public Health!

PH major moving to new departmental home:
You may have heard a bit about this news on the wind, but now it’s official! As of July 1, 2016, the Purser Building will hold a new department – Health Sciences. Your public health faculty team is thrilled, as are our new colleagues in Nutrition, Exercise Science, and Paramedicine. We’re all working toward the same big-picture goal, after all: improving health, from both an individual and a population perspective.

We anticipate new opportunities for collaborative and engaged research, teaching, and service, and are looking forward to growing together as a new academic community.

Dr. Pearson taking on interim department chair duties:
Starting in June, I’ll be serving as the department chair for our new unit’s first year. Because of this new role, I won’t be able to serve as faculty supervisor for summer interns, but I’m still very committed to student success and to our fantastic placement partners. If you’ve been working with me to establish your Learning Agreement, and we’re still in progress, I’m happy to see that through before transferring responsibility for your supervision to Dr. Madlem. If we haven’t started working together yet and you know you’re planning a summer internship (whether 5 credits or all 10), please visit with Dr. M immediately. She’ll be an outstanding link for you as you take this leap out into the profession and prepare for your future.

AND – no matter what – be sure to keep me posted about your amazing internship experiences! Getting to hear what you’re doing, and learning, out in our field is truly a professional high point for me every year. I can’t miss it!

New PUBH prefix for public health classes:
One of our latest curricular strengthening efforts, the change from HED to PUBH as a course prefix, has just been approved. This means that when you go to register for fall classes (maybe tomorrow?) you’ll be registering for courses such as PUBH 230 and PUBH 470, rather than HED…

That’s all for now. Remember, we have a tremendous public health program here at CWU, and that isn’t changing. Questions? Concerns? Stop by my office or call or send an email.

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Happy May – and some current PH thinking!

How about a few words on political apathy and public health issues – straight from Georges Benjamin, the current Executive Director of APHA?

Next up – a quick (3-minute) video on Healthier Washington, with key policymakers discussing an important pilot happening in SW Washington.

Spend a few minutes and keep current with our field!

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Community Health Worker training starts Thursday – FREE, and here at CWU!

The Washington State Dept of Health offers a Community Health Worker (CHW) Training, and we are bringing it to campus. Training starts Thurs April 13 with a 9am to 3pm Opening Day, follows up with several weeks of small, straightforward online components, and ends Thurs June 2 with a 9am to noon closing session. The Opening Day comes with LUNCH.

Participating students will be eligible to join an on-campus group, the Peer Health Associates Network (PHAN), CWU plans to establish next fall.

Click here for details about the training and the plans for PHAN, and sign up for the training at Wa State CHW training registration link

Questions? Call or email Dr. Pearson at 509-963-2493 or

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