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The Grad Post, Fall 2021, Sha-Hanna Saffold, Doctor of Public Health: Community Health Behavior and Education

Q: What drew you to Georgia Southern for your graduate studies?

A: What drew me to Georgia Southern was the student-to-professor ratio and the impact that the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health is making on health equity. It was a top school for me because of the in-person classes and its connection to change in Statesboro and Georgia. I desired to learn from professors such as Dr. Nandi A. Marshall to learn the best way to foster partnerships in the community, school systems, nonprofits, and allies to decrease the gap surrounding my interest in mental health inequalities. Our mutual interest in advocating and being aware of underserved populations, health promotion, social determinants of health, and minority and rural health disparities will aid in the process of my dissertation. From Dr. Mayo-Gamble I am gaining knowledge on how to conduct qualitative data such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups for my research. Her expertise in community engagement and chronic disease management can guide me in the correct methods to use.  I am also looking forward to mentorship from Dr. Hansen to develop my grant writing skills further to help secure funds for my small focus group.

Q: What are your Georgia Southern “points of pride?” What is one thing you are most proud of during your time here at Georgia Southern?

A: My points of pride include Georgia Southern seriously advocating for their students’ voices and being very student-centered. It helped me speak up and express my authenticity with pride, eventually decreasing my imposter syndrome. The emphasis on mentorship has diversified my public health knowledge and skills. I have been able to join the Georgia Society of Public Health and Education (GASOPHE) as the student liaison, work on a white paper outside of the university as a graduate assistant, and be a member of Eta Sigma Gamma. The one thing that I am the proudest of is being able to mentor four incoming GS students this year. I can pay it forward with the knowledge of my mentors and personal experience. I was matched with all four students perfectly. I plan to keep in contact with them after this year in case I can be of assistance.

Q: Are you a part of any research or work projects? If so, what are you doing?

A: In spring 2021, I applied for and was selected as a research assistant to help The Multicultural Development Institute, Inc develop a white paper. The focus is on equity/disparity among high-risk populations in Georgia (African American and LatinX communities), as well as on behavioral and mental health among children and youth up to age 25 years old. I had to conduct and document the past and current barriers and resources for care for both communities. After collecting data, I was the moderator of multiple focus groups completed within separate groups addressing cultural competency. The research team developed the qualitative questions and analyzed them with the previous data collected to offer future suggestions on how to increase equity related to mental health access in Georgia.

Q: Are you a part of an internship or co-op experience? What are you doing? What are you learning?

A: I am currently not a part of an internship or co-op experience, but I will complete my practicum in the spring 2022 semester. I am looking forward to it.

Q: How is Georgia Southern preparing you for your future career?

A: Georgia Southern is preparing me for my future career by working with professors who are passionate about helping me learn how to utilize social and behavioral theories properly. I am learning to conduct community-based participatory programs that will advance my methods for leading various future initiatives/interventions related to mental health in Georgia that are community-based upon completion of my program.

Additional Information: I am thankful for Georgia Southern! The Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health has given me excellent connections with current public health professionals and future public health professionals (my cohort and students ahead of us) to tackle health equity.


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