Student Profile: Anthony Keeling

Anthony Keeling is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in health promotion whose interest in medicine and healthcare developed into a passion for public health.

Spring 2020

Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Behavior (BSHP)

Brookwood High School

Snellville, GA

What attracted you to a degree and/or certificate in public health?
I can hardly remember a time I did not possess a passion for medicine and the entire realm of healthcare. Entering college, I was your typical Bio Pre-Med major that thought he was certain he would become an MD practicing dermatology or doing plastic surgery one day. However, once I discovered the Health Promotion Major, I was instantly drawn to the courses and how important and how much more applicable they were to the healthcare field. I instantly fell in love with the professors and their evident passions for Health Promotion definitely poured into me as the years went on.

What did you do for your internship?
Through the public health program, I was afforded the opportunity to intern at the CDC where I had the best experience imaginable. The work I was doing in the Office of Public Health Scientific Services empowered me and gave me a burning sense of purpose. Seeing my work directly contribute to such a massive, esteemed agency left me feeling fulfilled and even more fired up to see how much more of an impact I can make in this field.

Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?
The first semester after being accepted to CPH, our cohort took the Foundations of Health Promotion Professional Practice and Service course, where we were required to complete a service-learning project at a health organization in the Athens-Clarke County area. I chose Compassionate Care Hospice because I thought I could have the most impact there. I could have never anticipated the magnitude of the impact that this seemingly simple class requirement would have on me as a student and future allied health professional/health promoter.

Specifically, I was able to build one of the most sincere connections I ever have with a patient, a Cuban native who had been suffering from a language barrier for months. One day, I overheard him struggling to speak to the nurses about an issue he was having, and he literally could not form the sentences in English to explain himself. I took this opportunity leverage my bilingualism and serve as his translator, which ultimately resulted in him receiving the care and attention he had desired for so long. I couldn’t possibly explain the overwhelming joy I experienced after seeing his face light up with happiness after being seen, heard, and understood by someone for the first time in months. Our friendship grew exponentially until he became healthy enough to return home, and this was easily the most impactful volunteer experience I was a part of throughout my experience in the CPH. It also provided me with a better understanding of hospice care and healthcare in general.

This first class set the tone for the rest of my academic experience here, ignited a passion in me to pursue more moments like those, and removed any doubts I had about the CPH & Health Promotion major being a place that felt like home for me.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College?
It’s impossible to pinpoint a single highlight when my entire time in the College has felt like more of a highlight reel. I got to watch myself transform from a guy who never thought he would even get accepted to the major to begin with, to a vital influencer and leader in every class I was a part of. CPH has given me some of my most genuine friends and fondest memories that I will carry with me eternally. Moreover, I owe Dr. Proctor, Dr. Hein, Dr. Walters, and John Lauckner more than I could ever possibly repay them for the contributions they have made to the man I am today.

What achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?
I am certainly most proud of the pieces of work I’ve authored. I wrote a literature review on the underdiagnosis, undertreatment, and misunderstanding of eating disorders in men, and another on the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol on adolescent brains. I also developed a program plan to prevent eating disorders and disordered eating behavior among NCAA athletes. As a four-year student athlete for two sports, cheerleading and track field, this was extremely personal to me.

I was fortunate enough to make multiple appearances on the Dean’s List which I accredit mostly to how engaging and applicable I found the content of my coursework to be. The more I reflect on my entire experience, the more I realize how much of a dream come true it’s been to represent UGA and the College of Public Health. Through all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

What are your plans after graduation?
I have yet to decide what my next step is professionally, but I know it won’t be boring. Ideally, I’d like to move to either Los Angeles, Nashville, or Charleston and continue working at either a reputable public health organization or in a hospital setting for a couple years while also sorting out when and where I will be going back to school to study Physician Assistant studies or pursue a Master’s in Healthcare Administration. The uncertainty of the future can be daunting for some, but I am thankful to have options because of the strong foundation I’ve built through UGA’s College of Public Health.

Posted on February 10, 2020.