Caleb Smith, a BSHP student minoring in Health Policy and Management who graduates this month, plans to leverage the expertise he’s gained in the classroom and in the field to help address health disparities in the rural community he calls home.
“As a public health student, I have developed a deeper understanding of just how multifaceted public health issues are. What some may see as a simple problem can have multiple layers to it that require strategic thinking planning and problem solving,” he said.
Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion, Health Policy & Management Minor
What attracted you to a degree in the field of public health?
As a rural student, I have a strong passion for seeing rural areas improve especially in the area of health and wellness. While in middle school/high school, I saw the effects lack of access to healthcare can have on a community. When the Lower Oconee Community Hospital in Glenwood closed, I saw the effects it had on the community’s health and its economic impact. Seeing this, I developed an interest in learning how to help communities in similar situations or those that face health disparities due to geographical location.
Why did you choose your particular concentration? Certificate? Minor?
My concentration is Health Promotion with a minor in Health Policy. I chose these mainly because of my interests and how interconnected health promotion and policy are. In the future, I know I want to be involved in both, which is why I thought it is important to concentrate in Health Promotion and minor in Health Policy.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your time as a public health student?
I would have to say that the highlight of my time as a public health student would be my time participating in the UGA Washington Semester Program. Being in DC has been so great and really has allowed me to see beyond UGA.
This program gives UGA students the opportunity to learn and intern in Washington, D.C. for a semester. While most participants use the opportunity to intern on The Hill, the program allows for you to intern anywhere in DC and actually works with you to pair you with an internship that best fits your interests. UGA has a dorm in Washington, D.C. (Delta Hall) which houses all program participants and is conveniently located just blocks away from the Capitol. Along with other financial aid, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Chambliss Fellow, which awarded me $5,000 to assist with the program costs. The Chambliss Fellowship was started in honor of past GA Senator Saxby Chambliss. The learning aspect of the program involves a seminar every Tuesday night where program participants are able to hear from leaders from many different professional sectors many of whom went to UGA; Reta Jo Lewis, Chair of the Export Import Bank, was one of our guests.
Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?
Volunteering at Extra Special People (ESP) for Dr. Katie Hein’s Introduction to Public Health class was so meaningful to me. The friendships and meaningful connections made, really made my time at ESP, an organization which supports individuals with disabilities and their families, so great and allowed me to develop a stronger love for volunteering.
What activities/achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?
During my time at UGA, I was inducted into the Sphinx Club Honor Society – the highest honor an undergraduate student can receive while at the University of Georgia.
Where did you pursue your internship? What did you learn? What challenges did you face?
I intern at Dentons US LLP as a Legal Intern because of my interest in gaining work experience and research skills within the legal field. One of the main things I’ve learned from my internship is just how important research is. In addition to that, critiquing the ability to summarize your research findings in a language appropriate for your audience is such a vital skill to have.
At Dentons US LLP, I worked under Mr. Randall Nuckolls, a UGA Double Dawg, in the firm’s public policy group. Mr. Nuckolls represented UGA in Washington for numerous years. Given that I’m not a law student, my work was mainly limited to legal research. I was the only intern at the DC firm that semester, so I did research for a lot of people and that research looked different depending on what was needed.
For example, one of the partners in the Native American policy group had me research Native American logging businesses and how they benefit territorial economics. The client this research was for was going before a Senate committee and wanted this in the statement they have to turn in. In addition to research logging businesses, I also had to research those on the Senate committee to see if they were for or against international logging businesses on Native American territories.
One of the managing directors in the public policy group asked me to do a range of research that included compiling biographies on numerous Congressional officials that were needed by our clients, as well as listening in on Senate and House committee hearings and then preparing memos.
I also had to track a lot of bills at the federal and state level. One in particular that was very time consuming was Tik Tok bans. Most states that had legislation banning Tik Tok had different language as to where Tik Tok was banned, so I had to go through those bills and detail those bans for my supervisor.
I think the biggest challenge faced during my internship was critiquing my writing skills. Our audience is mostly law school graduates who have been working in law for a while. Summarizing articles for our firm’s playbook was somewhat difficult at first, mainly because I didn’t understand a lot of the language in the articles nor how to rewrite that in similar language.
What insights have you gained as a public health student?
As a public health student, I have developed a deeper understanding of just how multifaceted public health issues are. What some may see as a simple problem can have multiple layers to it that require strategic thinking planning and problem solving.
Do you have any external activities that you are passionate about?
I grew up as a preacher’s kid (still am), so I love everything about the Black church especially our music! In my free time, I love to play piano and help my dad in ministry.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduating college in May, I plan to take a gap year followed by attending law school to pursue a JD/MPH or JD/MHA dual degree. During my gap year, I’ll be serving in the Glenwood Grove Helping Hands Resource Center, Inc., a non-profit organization founded by my father aimed at providing needed resources to those in our community back home. Given my degree focus, I’ll be serving as CEO and Board President in an effort to create vital programs benefiting the community.
Posted on May 3, 2023.