HPDP doctoral students recognized at 2016 FPHA Annual Education Conference

Jessica, Chintan, Ari, McCoyDuring the Florida Public Health Association 2016 Annual Education Conference, FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work doctoral students Jessica Weissman, Chintan Bhatt and Ari Hozman were recognized for their scholarship while Health Promotion & Disease Prevention professor H.Virginia McCoy was invited to serve as the FIU Stempel College liaison to FHPA’s board of directors.

Weissman won the graduate student scholarship and presidential awards, and she was also selected for the position of student representative to the membership committee of the FPHA. Bhatt won the most informative poster award. He was also selected for the position of student representative to the legislative committee of the FPHA. Hozman was selected to the position of student representative for the social committee committee of the FPHA.

The FPHA serves Florida’s public health professionals and students through advocacy, professional development as well as networking to improve Florida’s health. FPHA membership is as diverse as public health and includes nurses, environmental health specialists, health educators, physicians, allied health professionals, preventive medicine specialists, laboratorians, alternative health care providers, social workers, academicians, policymakers, interested citizens and students.

Here’s what these FIU Stempel College students learned by attending the conference…

Highlights from FPHA 2016 AEC

Jessica Weissman

At my second Florida Public Health Association Annual Educational Conference, I was afforded many exciting opportunities that are worth sharing with the faculty and students of FIU Stempel College. I highly encourage other students to attend the FPHA conference so that they can experience the same benefits I experienced.

First off, I made so many networking connections that wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t attended the conference. Moreover, most attendees live and work in Florida, so I was able to network with fellow Floridians. I was also presented with three job opportunities in Florida.

Another benefit of attending the AEC is the ability to earn awards, which can improve your CV. For example, I earned a graduate student scholarship and the FPHA Presidential Award for my dedication over the past year to the organization.

It was also great to have Professor McCoy, the graduate program director for the department of Health Promotion & Disease Prevention at the conference to support me and the other FIU students. I am definitely going to continue working with the organization and volunteering as a leader.

In short, I have served as secretary for the board of directors and as chairperson for FPHA’s South Florida Regional Conference over the past year. I will continue to fulfill my duties as secretary over the next year. I was also presented with an additional leadership opportunity, as I will now additionally be serving as the student representative for the membership committee of FPHA.

Another benefit of attending the conference is making lifelong friends. The passionate public health professionals at FPHA make conference attendees feel welcome and encourage participation.

My short-term career goals include taking my last required course in fall 2016 and taking my comprehensive exams in November 2016. I plan to defend my dissertation proposal during spring 2016 and to defend my completed dissertation project during spring 2017. I also plan to continue my volunteer leadership work with FPHA. I really enjoy serving as a board member and fully immersing myself in the world of public health. 

Chintan Bhatt

I attended my first FPHA AEC this year. It was a great experience as this conference was an excellent way to network and learn while having fun in a supportive environment.

I presented a poster titled, Financing Florida: Public Health Funding and HIV/AIDS Outcomes. My poster addressed funding trends and infection outcomes with respect to HIV/AIDS from 2009 to 2015. As a result of my work, I won the most informative poster award and even had the opportunity to present my poster to Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Celeste Phillip.

I was grateful to have professor McCoy as a co-author for this poster and to have her support in-person when I won this award. After networking with FPHA leaders, I was offered the position of student representative on the FPHA legislative committee, and I accepted this offer.

One major thing I learned at the conference was FPHA’s active role in promoting public health in Tallahassee. FPHA has a legislative committee that works with a paid lobbyist to fight for things like higher wages, more Zika Virus research and increased accessibility to medications for those who are HIV positive. FPHA surveys its members every other year to determine what members want the lobbyists to fight hardest for each year. Hence, FPHA is truly the voice of public health researchers, clinicians, students and change-makers in Florida.

My short-term goals include finishing my Ph.D. degree in public health and continuing to hold leadership positions with the FPHA, Florida’s premiere public health organization. Over the long term, I plan to continue working as a public health professional on community translational research to decrease health disparities.

Ari Hozman

I am so excited to share my experience regarding the conference. From day one, I immediately noticed the high caliber of interactive educational sessions that took place and I was blown away. From Zika to HIV to obesity and more, the sessions were nothing less than exciting. Speakers were well prepared, engaging and clearly up to date on the most current body of knowledge and public health concerns.

Moreover, the FPHA board members were friendly and welcoming. Their support for students was exemplified during the student interest group meeting, where I was encouraged to participate and engage in the timely and important topics. In fact, I was asked to take on the position of student representative on the FPHA social media committee and I gladly accepted.

As a first year Ph.D. student, attending this conference was a wonderful opportunity to network with other health professionals in my field, to obtain a leadership position, and to learn about current public health issues that are effecting us at local, state, national and global levels. I look forward to attending the FPHA AEC conference for years to come.



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