Congratulations, Marisa Novello!

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The University of Michigan-Flint Department of Public Health and Health Sciences along with the Hurley Medical Center Nurse Anesthesia Program congratulates 2016 program graduate Marisa Novello on being selected the winner of this year’s American Association of Nurse Anesthetist National Student Writing Contest. Marisa’s winning paper was titled, “Anesthetic Management of a Patient with Spasmodic Dysphonia: A Case Study.” This is a prestigious accomplishment and a great way to start her new career. Marisa has accepted a position at St. John Providence Hospital in Southfield.

PHHS Associate Professor Dr. Rie Suzuki visits the IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Brazil

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The 22nd International Union for Health Promotion and Education World Conference on Health Promotion took place this past month in Curitiba, Brazil. The aim of the conference was to create a global forum where researchers, practitioners and policy makers involved in and concerned about the promotion of health and equity would share and discuss new knowledge, innovations in practice and policy and cutting edge experience.

Our very own Associate Professor Dr. Rie Suzuki was able to attend the conference and share her thoughts!

Health inequities are still growing, both in Flint and globally. The aim of The 22nd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion was to prevent these inequities by promoting health and equity, while also discussing new knowledge, policy, innovations in practice, and cutting edge experience; for these reasons, the greatest benefits of attending this conference were the opportunities to build a professional network and increase awareness of international trends happening in Health Education and Promotion.


I met with Japanese physicians and public health professionals who work in occupational health fields and are members of the Japanese Health Education Association. Additionally, attending this conference reinforced the importance of social determinants of health, especially regarding health policy. For example, democratic movements have been associated with health equities in underdeveloped nations. This knowledge can be used in both HCR 368 Sociology of Health and Illness and Health Education courses to teach a concept of the socio-ecological model. Hence, conference participation has been and will continue to be supportive of more opportunities for global relevance.


For more information on the International Union for Health Promotion and Education click here!

PHHS Health Education students gain insight into community by participating on Windshield Tour of Flint

This past month, a dozen of our PHHS Health Education students participated in a Windshield Tour of Flint as part of their HED 543 Community Assessment class, lead by lecturer Shannon Brownlee, MPH. Conducted through the Genesee County Health Department REACH program, the Windshield Tour offers individuals a chance to gain an understanding and awareness towards the social and environmental issues that occur in Flint.

PHHS was fortunate enough to capture feedback from a few of our students who shared their tour experiences with us below!

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I wanted to say that during the windshield tour it was evident at least in the situation of Flint that the residents in Impoverished communities even when united might find it hard to combat systemic inequalities in their communities without outside help (as seen with the Flint Water Crisis). I believe that in order for the residents of Flint to counter the debilitating effects of their present condition, residents should continue to advocate for one another through community organizing and building.

In order to keep political attention on the systemic wrongs which have crippled the remaining population, community leaders can also play to the general attributes of the city such as its union founding history, remaining manufacturing production, college town prestige, and the solidarity of the people.  –Jessica Gutierrez

The Windshield Tour gave me some great insight into Flint’s environment. We had the opportunity to see both the good and bad aspects of the city. Some of the bad that really stood out to me was the number of liquor stores that were accessible across town and the huge lack of quality grocery stores. On the other hand, it’s great seeing universities and hospitals trying to rejuvenate the city, both through public health and economic efforts. In the end, although Flint is not the city that’s portrayed in the news, it is certainly a place that greatly needs public health initiatives. -Deepika Kandasamy

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One of the more common themes explored was the difficulties the community faces as far as access to health options such as grocery stores, or even in finding health information itself.  The students were better able to understand these barriers and the work being done to help bridge these shortcomings.

It was an eye opener, I was able to see both the good and bad parts of Flint communities. Regarding health message, if feel it is hard to reach out or to educate community members about health options. I noticed that areas with predominant minorities have many grocery stores. This limits community members to access fresh vegetables and fruits. I feel that health policies should be re-evaluated to improve the health conditions of disadvantaged communities. -Lumba Moonga

From a community organizing standpoint, participating in the Windshield Tour was very important. It allowed us to better understand the barriers that the community members face. Often times, public health professionals believe that their ideas/interventions are the most important thing for the community. The issue with this notion is that the community members may not perceive these ideas to be important and thus they will not comply. Utilizing several techniques including a Windshield Tour will better equip us with a feel for the community that we are assisting. Community organizing is all about getting people on the same page. In order to reduce the disconnect between the public and the health professionals, a thorough community assessment must be conducted.

This Windshield tour helped me tremendously in regards to my personal assessment of the community. I learned a great deal of information about Flint’s history as well as the current issues that the city faces. I have gained a newfound respect for the community and now understand the many struggles that people face in Flint. We have been socialized to believe that everyone is responsible for the position that they are in which is not accurate at all. In the future, it will be important for me to be less judgmental and more culturally competent in order to better assist this city! -Joseph Alnarshi

The windshield tour was extremely beneficial for assessing a community. I found it extremely beneficial as I am not a Flint native and new to the East side of Michigan. The windshield tour allowed me to see first hand what truly is going on in the city of Flint rather than hearing second hand information through the news or other sources. Within the public health field and classes, conversations are constantly based around Flint therefore it was extremely beneficial to physically see what has been discussed in previous classes. I was able to see how the city is laid out with different areas which were flourishing and other areas which are experiencing tougher times and oppression.

The tour gave me a new, unique perspective while being able to physically see the areas within a community which need assessing to decrease the barriers experienced by its citizens. Through seeing the city through a guided tour, I now have a much better understanding to the barriers and assets of the community and how these play into the health disparities experienced by the Flint community.

A windshield tour is an excellent and cutting edge way to assess a community and its needs allowing decision holders truly a boots on the ground point of view. Actually driving the streets, walking through the stores, and seeing the different socioeconomic areas of the city, allows for a better, more complete and encompassing assessment therefore improving the overall public health of a community with comprehensive, optimal, and sustainable policies to empower communities. –Jennifer Wisniewski

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Many students were able to gain insights into Flint itself, as not everyone on the tour resides in the area.  With Flint’s decline after many years as a strong community, it is important to recognize the growth and the beginnings of a return. Many of the students on the tour were able to notice these positive changes.

As a student who commutes from Macomb Township, I did not really know much about the city of Flint, prior to starting graduate school at the University of Michigan-Flint. I knew the city was once a great area to find work, especially within the General Motors Company. This tour provided me with much insight towards the everyday living conditions of community members. Flint is currently faced with limited access to healthy foods, lack of space for outdoor exercise, and in some areas there are high levels of crime. All too often we hear about all of the negative things a community has to offer. I was glad we were able to see some of the up and coming things occurring in Flint, like the Chevy Commons parks, and the test track installation at Kettering University. –Ashley Page

I consider Flint, Michigan a diamond in the rough. It has hidden unique characteristics and holds future potential that make it an extraordinary city. The windshield tour was an eye opening experience. It gave us a first class experience to witnessing everything that makes this community what it is today. We were able to see the good, the bad, the ugly, and more importantly the future of Flint. Although the city is far different from what it was back in 1980’s, flash forward to 2016 and the streets are filled with young students, professionals, and residents all making a way for themselves. It’s a new fresh Flint. A Flint that was able to pick its self back up from times of deindustrialization, poverty, high crime rates, to a new bustling successful and prosperous city. Even through the setbacks, Flint continues to persevere and shine bright like the diamond it is. -Maha Khrais

The Health Education 543 Community Assessment course provides a broad understanding of the concepts involved in the process of community organization, including assessing the socio-political structure of communities, developing strategies for change within a community, and the role of the health educator in this process. Topics of the course include: definition of a community, a review of social factors that impact disease, community assessment methods, models of community organization, and strategies of community organizing.

The Public Health and Health Sciences Department is “Public Health in the Community” and looks forward to more opportunities to help educate and make an impact in the Flint area. For more information on the Department of Public Health and Health Sciences and programs offered, please visit our website here!

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Congratulations Jamie Cole!

Jamie Cole is the Department of Public Health and Health Science Maize and Blue winner for winter 2016 and recently graduated with a B.S. in Health Sciences.

Jamie has always had a passion for learning and helping others and has demonstrated this throughout her academic career. She has been an active member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Flint area water collection efforts, provided assistance for hospice care patients, coordinated community events and food donations for Charity Tabernacle, took part in Department of Environmental Quality’s Invasive Species Group, community band boosters, and elderly outreach programs among many other efforts.

Jamie has also received the Department of Public Health and Health Sciences Outstanding Student Award, a Commitment to Service Award and is one of only 13 UM-Flint students who were selected to receive the prestigious Maize and Blue Award!

Jamie has managed a successful academic career and extensive service record all while being a wife, and mother of two children. As a United States Army Veteran, she serves as an inspiration and role model for other veteran’s at the University of Michigan-Flint.

“I will make giving back a large part of my life in the future, so as not to waste what has been given to me by UM-Flint”.

Moving forward, Jamie plans to attend medical school and spend a portion of her career working for Doctors without Borders providing medical attention to those who would otherwise not receive it.

“UM-Flint has been a blessing, the faculty and student body were always helpful, pushing me to do my very best. The entire experience I’ve had has been surreal. The university gave me the tools and help I needed to realize my true potential”.

We are so proud of Jamie. She has accomplished so much and we wish her the very best in her future pursuits.

Way to go Jamie!

2016 Genesys Heart Institute and Video Project winners

Congratulations to our two teams of Genesys Heart Institute Video Project Winners!

Both Shelby Miller and Ariel Angel-Vincent as well as Japari Gadzami and Nubwa Gadzami were able to take home the $1500 prize!!! A short snippet of each of their videos can be found here on our department Facebook page!

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Are you interested in winning a cash prize? The next opportunity will come in the fall, please email Dr. Shan Parker at with any questions!

Public Health and Health Sciences Department volunteers help community with lead screening and education

The Department of Public Health and Health Sciences has been busy at work helping volunteer with the community during the Flint water crisis, offering assistance with lead screening and blood testing at various sites throughout the city.

The PHHS efforts were done in collaboration with UM-Flint Student Care Coordinator and Clinical Nursing Faculty member Veronica Robinson, MSN, RN, and students from the Department of Nursing. In addition to having many student volunteers, faculty and staff from PHHS have volunteered as well, including Dr. Gergana Kodjebacheva, Dr. Shan Parker and Brenda Cameron.

Hosting services at Cathedral of Faith Ministries and the downtown Flint YMCA in Flint, dozens of adults and children have had the opportunity for education about lead absorption, and lead screening itself. One of the many PHHS student volunteers, Jonathon Mateen II, was able to give us a first hand account of his experiences.

My first date volunteering was February 17th, 2016 at Cathedral of Faith Ministries. This location was once an elementary school and has been converted into a church. This lead screening site was done together with Molina Health Care, The University of Michigan-Flint School of Nursing, and the Genesee County Health Department. It was set up event style with Molina providing tables for information, activities for children, a raffle with prizes and free food. Students from The School of Nursing along with public health students ran a hand washing station and a station on nutrition.

I started working the table on nutrition which discussed how a healthy diet can fight lead poisoning. I held two discussions with parents of children who were being tested for lead. Upon sharing with one parent that children absorb up to 50% of lead ingested while adults only absorb up to 10%, she excitedly searched for a piece of paper to write that information down. This stood out to me because of the amount of information concerning lead poisoning that was out there, showing me that not only is there a lot of information out there, but that everyone knows something different. The significance of health education is very important, as many people do not know a lot of the information surrounding this crisis and other public health problems despite the availability of the information.

From this task, I started to assist with hand washing. It was very important that children properly washed their hands. We served to make sure the children did not contaminate their hands with germs before being tested for lead. This involved us turning on the faucet, placing soap in their hands, singing the happy birthday song twice while washing, turning the faucet off, dispensing paper towel, and then opening the door. It was a duty making sure these energetic children kept their hands off of everything on the way to the testing room. Sometimes parents would come in the bathroom to see that their child was properly sanitized. This step also served the purpose of educating on the various ways lead enters the body. Lead can be found on many things children are interested in exploring, from toys to the outdoors. Hand washing is essential to fighting lead poisoning.

By volunteering I was able to participate in a community effort to promote education and awareness to the people of Flint. This was very important for me after the water crisis developed into what it is today. There is only so much that we have control of on a right now basis. Seeing different facets of health care and members of the community come together for this event was inspiring. While we were there to assist and educate, no amount of knowledge that can be disseminated to people compares to a lived experience. These events serve as a way to bridge the gap between that lived experienced and what we all need to know for the improvement of our health.

IMG_20160217_163046665Public Health and Health Sciences undergraduate students Jonathon Mateen (at left) and Ashley McCloud (second from right) with Dr. Gergana Kodjebacheva (second from left)

PHHS’s own Brenda Cameron also spoke on her experiences, which she found both rewarding and eye opening.

On February 17th, 2016 I volunteered at the YMCA/Cathedral of Faith COGIC which was hosting a lead testing and information clinic. I signed up to volunteer as I feel helpless during this crisis. Volunteers were plentiful so I wasn’t especially busy but that allowed me to interact with families attending the clinic and hear some of their personal stories and battles.

Being there first hand brought the crisis to life; the real people affected, each still wondering what the future holds for their children and their homes. The organizations that coordinated the event did an outstanding job providing healthy and fun activities for the children to keep the experience positive and engaging.

Giving my time showed me the time these families must sacrifice to get the information, water, and testing that they need. The experience was heartwarming as I saw the community pull together and all of the people lining up to help. It also opened my eyes to some of the many things we take for granted every day.

Many of the PHHS student volunteers are also members of the Health Education Honor Society, Eta Sigma Gamma, and their participation was led by ESG Faculty Advisor and PHHS Department Associate Director Dr. Shan Parker.

Eta Sigma Gamma President Shelby Miller also spoke of her experiences.

I volunteered on February 17th at Cathedral of Faith and on February 23rd at Mount Olive Baptist Church. At each event we rotated volunteer duties, so I provided nutrition education aimed at helping to reduce the negative effects of lead, greeted participants at the door, and helped the children wash their hands prior to lead testing.

The main thing that I got out of this experience was confirmation that I want to pursue a career in Public Health. This issue is happening so close to home and it just shows that public health professionals are so necessary to help deal with these kinds of social issues impacting the health of communities. It is also important for us, as public health professionals to advocate for these communities because they may not have the resources to advocate for themselves.

It is very sad to witness the children of Flint having to go through this. After talking with the families it was evident that many of the children realize the harsh reality of what is going on in their community.


Eta Sigma Gamma President Shelby Miller educates the community on lead and nutrition


We are so proud of all of our student, faculty and staff volunteers at Public Health and Health Sciences, and of all of our colleagues at the University of Michigan-Flint, and we look forward to continuing our leadership efforts throughout the community as we work towards helping in any way that we can with the Flint water crisis.

For more information the involvement of PHHS with the water crisis, including information on the remaining dates tot eh Flint Water Crisis Course, please visit Flint Water Crisis page.

Congratulations Tabitha Donald!

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 12.30.25 PMCongratulations to PHHS student Tabitha Donald as her abstract was presented at the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research annual meeting this past month! This annual meeting is designed for health professions faculty and students; program directors of public health programs, and chairs of departments of preventive medicine/population health to tackle important topics facing our world.

Taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Teaching Prevention 2016: Preparing Students to Address Emerging Issues featured student presenters from around the United States, with Tabitha presenting her MSHE Capstone project on which she worked with Dr. Rie Suzuki. The title of her abstract was “The Relationship of Physical Activity and Social Support with Depression in Older Adults.”  Her abstract will be made available later this month at

Congratulations Tabitha, and to Dr. Suzuki as well!

PHHS Faculty Molly Brennan featured in “The Scholarly Teacher”


”Once Upon a Time: Integrating Stories into Your Teaching”, Amy Yorke and Molly Brennan (University of Michigan, Flint) discuss how intentionally planning and implementing storytelling into a learning experience assisted student learning. Read about the effective use of of storytelling across disciplines to more successfully promote long term learning and critical thinking skills of their students. See the blog post here!

PHHS Faculty Dr. Max Mendieta visits Madrid for Health, Wellness & Society international Conference!

PHHS Assistant Professor Max Mendieta, PhD, recently returned from the 2015 Health, Wellness, and Society Conference at the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, Spain! Dr. Mendieta presented a poster on “The Barriers to Hospice Care in Saudi Arabia”.

Founded in 2011, the Health, Wellness, & Society Knowledge Community is brought together by a common concern in the fields of human health and wellness, and in particular their social interconnections and implications.

International Conference on Health, Wellness, and Society attendees include leaders in the field, as well as emerging scholars, who travel to the conference from all corners of the globe and represent a broad range of disciplines and perspectives. A variety of presentation options and session types offer opportunities for attendees to share their work, discuss key issues in the field, and build relationships with attendees.

The 2015 Special Focus is Health and Wellness in the Age of Big Data.


For more information on the university, please see the link and narrative below.

The University of Alcalá (UAH) is a public institution founded by Cardinal Cisneros in 1499. One of Europe’s oldest universities, its influence has been felt both near – it is one of the earliest examples of a planned university town – and far (its articles of constitution have served as a model for various Latin American universities). Its alumni include some of the most famous names of Spanish culture, such as Lope de Vega, Francisco de Quevedo and Tirso de Molina. Alcalá de Henares was also the birthplace of Cervantes, the creator of the greatest figure in Spanish literature, Don Quixote de la Mancha. In recognition both of its cultural importance and its impressive architectural inheritance, in 1998 the University was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year the university’s ancient assembly hall, the “Paraninfo Universitario”, plays host to the most important Spanish literary award ceremony, the Cervantes Prize.