Student Profile: Dana Alvin

With master’s degrees in both public health and health administration, Dana Alvin is readying herself to meet the critical challenges facing the health care industry, while improving access to high-quality healthcare.

Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Health Administration (MHA)

May 2021

Bachelor of Arts, Cognitive Science, University of Georgia

Metter, Georgia

What attracted you to a degree and/or certificate in public health? Why did you choose your particular concentration?

I always wanted to help others and I believe having a degree in public health allows me to have a positive impact on others on a larger scale. My plan after graduation is to work at a hospital as an administrator. Obtaining both an MPH and MHA degree will empower me to make informed decisions that will lead to healthier communities. I chose health policy and management as a concentration because I have always been attracted to health management because it is important for communities to have access to healthcare.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College?

The CPH Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mini-Grants Program was a great experience to be a part of. It was a pleasure to see my colleagues come together to address and execute plans to better our community.

I am most proud of receiving a CPH mini-grant last year and using that grant to develop a plan that will help our community to have access to health insurance. We developed a website that was geared for towards patients that have Medicaid or wanted to apply it. There is a large population of individuals that don’t have insurance in Athens and have issues getting to their appointments. The website included information on how to apply for Medicaid and determine if they were eligible for it. Additionally, we included a map of providers currently accepting Medicaid with bus routes on how to get to their appointments. I worked with three other MPH students – Nahyo Jalajel, Devynn Sharpe, and Will Chase. Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams was our advisor.

Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?

Being part of the UGA’s Martin Luther King Day of Service was a meaningful volunteer experience for me because volunteering with Athens Wellbeing Project is needed in order to collect data to gain insights on the needs of our community.

For MLK Day, we volunteered by knocking on doors to encourage locals to take the Athens Wellbeing Project survey. The goal was the more responses we have the more likely the data collected will represent the population. The Athens Wellbeing Project collects household data on various topics, such as health insurance, living conditions, transportation, health status, and other data to inform stakeholders on which community initiatives should be launched to meet the needs of our community.

What did you do for your internships? What were your biggest challenges? What did you learn?

For my MPH degree, I worked as a health educator for a non-profit called Cancer Pathways. I pursued a health educator internship because I wanted to educate teens about the importance of reducing their risk of cancer. My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was 19 years old, so educating others about cancer awareness and prevention is something that is close to my heart. My biggest challenge was making sure to deliver education in a way that students are able to understand. I learned that education is very important to help others take care of themselves in the best way possible.

For my MHA degree, I worked as an administrative assistant at Wills Memorial Hospital. I wanted more health administrative experience and I believe delivering high-quality care is crucial to improving health outcomes. While being at a hospital, my biggest challenge faced was maneuvering during Covid-19. Covid-19 has changed work processes, so we had to adapt to how we worked and interacted with coworkers. I learned that healthcare is a fast-paced industry. Policies and regulations are always changing, so it is important to stay up to date with current policies.

How has the current pandemic impacted your educational experience at UGA and CPH?

The pandemic impacted my educational experiences by shifting my classes from in-person to online. For me the transition was fairly smooth, however, I do miss seeing my colleagues face to face.

Have you worked or begun a project outside of school that you might not have otherwise?

Yes, I worked on a COVID-19 contact tracing team to develop a curriculum that will help contact tracers work effectively and appropriately in minority communities. The six-week internship, where I worked with faculty members from Pennsylvania State University and the CDC, counted towards credit for a summer research course.

What insights have you gained as a public health student?

As a public health student, I have learned the importance of a team effort. Through these uncertain times, a team approach is crucial to fighting the pandemic and helping each other to get through it.

Posted on October 7, 2020.