On track to pursue a nursing degree next fall, health promotion major Abigail Craven looks forward to putting what she has learned at the UGA College of Public Health into practice. “My desire is to care for patients while also influencing them to live healthier lifestyles,” she said.
Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion (BSHP)
What attracted you to a degree and/or certificate in public health?
When I enrolled at UGA, I knew that I wanted to graduate with a degree in a health-related field. My plan from the start has been to complete my bachelor’s degree and then attend graduate school to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing. After completing some public health classes and researching public health careers in detail, I discovered that I wanted to incorporate public health into my nursing career. Public health is similar to the medical field in many ways, but the focus is very different. It is more focused on improving the health of an entire population rather than just treating individual patients for specific illnesses. With formal training in public health, I could better accomplish my career goals of teaching and encouraging others in methods of illness/disease prevention while also pursuing my career in nursing. In other words, I plan to use my public health skills to influence my patients to live healthier lifestyles to prevent future illnesses/diseases.
Why did you choose your particular concentration?
I have consistently watched many loved ones face numerous health-related battles that could have possibly been prevented. One of the main themes I noticed was the lack of action regarding their health until their life was at risk. I decided that I wanted to pursue an education in health promotion to educate family, friends, patients, and strangers on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. Along with a desire to treat patients for the health issues that ail them, I also have a passion to help individuals prevent or minimize these health conditions before they occur.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College?
The highlight of my time spent in the College of Public Health has been the opportunity to meet so many people that have similar career interests. I have been really blessed with classmates that have motivated me, pushed me, and encouraged me throughout the years. Furthermore, I have had the privilege of sitting under so many accomplished and wonderful professors. Though there were some classes that were difficult and stressful, I now look back and I am so very thankful for the challenges that I experienced from these dedicated professors. They encouraged me to meet the challenges. In doing so, they prepared me to be a better trained health promotion professional.
Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?
During Dr. Katie Hein’s Foundations of Health Promotion Professional Practice and Service course, my classmates and I were required to volunteer at a local organization throughout the semester. I chose to volunteer at Butterfly Dreams Farm, which is a non-profit organization that provides hippotherapy and therapeutic riding sessions for children. Horses were used for all of the speech therapy sessions, so I held many responsibilities as a volunteer. Not only did I get to groom the animals, lead them around the arena, and hold the children in-place on the horse, but I also became a personal cheerleader for each child. It was extremely meaningful to me to be able to build relationships with these children throughout the sessions. I would always be sure to cheer them on, encourage them, and assure them of how great they were doing. The best part was to watch the happy faces of the children when they saw me each week. It was definitely a rewarding experience to observe the children grow, improve, and step-out of their comfort zones throughout the semester.
What activities/achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?
I am very honored to be able to say that I have been listed as a Presidential Scholar the majority of my time at UGA. This has been extremely meaningful and rewarding. There have certainly been positive and negative personal events throughout college that could have easily prevented me from achieving this goal. However, I was determined to persevere and continued to work diligently throughout to reach my goals. I am very grateful, blessed, and pleased with the outcome. I maintained my 4.0!
What did you do for your internship? Why did you pursue this internship?
In January 2021, I started my internship with the UGA Well-being Coordinator Kiz Adams. During this internship, I have worked as a well-being advocate to educate UGA faculty and staff on the importance of a positive well-being.
The reason that I chose this internship is because I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of all UGA employees. I have quickly learned that the faculty and staff at UGA work hard to ensure that the University is the “best of the best.” However, due to working so hard, these individuals sometimes forget to focus on their own physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This can lead to them feeling stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, etc. Therefore, it is vital that UGA employees are aware of the programs, workshops, and classes that have been put into place to improve their health and wellness.
What was the biggest challenge faced during your internship?
A small portion of my duties this semester has consisted of me communicating/advertising the UGA Well-being programs to the faculty and staff at the University. Since UGA is such a large institution, communication can sometimes be difficult. Therefore, it has been a challenge spreading the word about the well-being programs, workshops, and classes that are available to employees. Thus, I have spent much time researching the Staff Council Representatives and Communications Directors within each college to set up meeting times for Kiz and I to provide information sessions about these programs. Thankfully, we have found this to be very successful and beneficial. Though communication has been my biggest challenge, it has also been my favorite duty.
What insights have you gained as a public health student?
As a public health student, I have come to realize that making changes within the health of a population is going to be very time-consuming. It is not going to happen overnight. Solutions to problems related to program planning such as time, dedication, money, etc., are developed slowly. However, one of the main key takeaways that I have learned from many of the courses within my major is the importance of involving the community. This is helpful when identifying the health problems and developing solutions and interventions. In the words of (HPB Professor) Dr. Nathan Hansen, “to be most effective, the community should help determine what Need to address and what Outcome to assess.” There are going to be times where I feel I have the solution to a health problem. However, the community members might have a totally different solution in mind. Therefore, it is important to involve the community when intervening in order to get the most successful outcome.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I am excited to say that I will be attending Augusta University’s 16-month Clinical Nurse Leader program. This program will allow me to obtain a leadership position as a Registered Nurse and work in a healthcare setting. My desire is to care for patients while also influencing them to live healthier lifestyles.
Posted on March 18, 2021.