Student Profile: Folasade Olaoye

Health Promotion major and Double Dawg student Folasade Olaoye hopes to address community health disparities by improving access to quality, nutritious food for all.

“With a degree in Health Promotion and a Global Health minor, I can address these issues in local and global settings,” says Olaoye. ”I have always been interested in the bigger issue, and public health was the answer that I was looking for to investigate those larger-scale questions.”

Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion (BSHP) with an emphasis in Health Promotion; Global Health Minor
Master of Public Health, Health Promotion & Behavior concentration

May 2022

Loganville, GA

What attracted you to a degree in public health?

After my mother’s colon cancer diagnosis, my entire family’s life changed. This change in our lives birthed the desire to help people avoid an adverse diagnosis like my mother’s. My goal is to help people develop healthy eating habits to prevent the onset of chronic disease. For a long time, I thought that I could only accomplish this goal as a physician. However, when I came to the University of Georgia, I learned about public health and its reach into health inequities, which stem from systemic issues that some individuals and communities face. These inequities prevent access to healthy foods and potentially lead to unhealthy dietary patterns. With a degree in Health Promotion and a Global Health minor, I can address these issues in local and global settings. I have always been interested in the bigger issue, and public health was the answer that I was looking for to investigate those larger-scale questions.

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

Out of all my experiences at the College, I would have to say the conversations that I have had with the College of Public Health faculty stand out the most. We truly have an innovative, passionate group of professors within our college who truly are devoted to the learning of its students. Anytime I have talked with any of the faculty members, it has been a rewarding conversation that has sparked new connections, interests, and passions in the field of public health.

Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?

In my service-learning course with Dr. Katie Hein, I volunteered as a tutor at Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela during Fall 2020. Founded by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela is a local non-profit organization committed to serve the residents of the Pinewood Estates North community and surroundings. Oasis provides several resources and services to the community, including after-school tutoring for children in Pre-K through 5th grade. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oasis decided to hold their tutoring services virtually on Zoom. While this format was new for the students and most tutors, we had a successful semester filled with new learning experiences and opportunities to connect with the children. I learned about the fears and worries that the children and their families face, and I expanded my cultural awareness about the health and social issues faced by their communities. As a public health student, I saw how these community-wide issues affected the social determinants of health of both individuals and the community.

What activities/achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?

This past year, I was selected as a 2021-2022 Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar through UGA’s Office of Service-Learning and the Office of Public Service & Outreach. This program selects a cohort of undergraduate students to gain a deeper understanding of the reach and impact that UGA has on the state of Georgia. Being a part of this cohort has been one of the most rewarding experiences while at UGA. Throughout this past semester, I have attended hands-on, informational training and meetings, which is preparing me for my applied practicum field experience in Spring 2022. I have also forged long-lasting friendships with my other cohort members, who inspire me with their passion for public service. The Public Service & Outreach Student Scholar Program created a space where I could not only develop as a leader but also deepen my passion to serve people.

What will you be doing for applied practice experience this Spring? What do you hope to learn? 

I chose to intern at the Archway Partnership because I saw it as an opportunity to serve my Georgia communities. Several of Georgia’s counties suffer from food insecurity and lack of adequate nutrition because of the existing food deserts in their residential areas. I saw an opportunity to put into practice the skills that I have learned as a CPH student.

I am excited to be working with a mix of local coordinators, Archway professionals, and other student researchers to help communities not only address community issues but also connect communities to the necessary resources to improve their community. I aim to develop a program plan to connect local store owners with community members and organizations to reduce food insecurity in rural areas. My hope is that this experience will deepen my passion for public service and encourage my desire for advocacy with food insecurity work while paving new connections and partnerships along the way.

Do you have any external activities that you are passionate about?

Since September 2019, I have been involved in a student-led organization called The Field serving as the event coordinator, fundraising committee head, and club president. We are committed to creating a space where UGA students can seek a relationship with Jesus Christ through Bible-based teaching alongside other students. As club president, one of my goals for our organization was to create a more service-oriented atmosphere for students to pour into our UGA and local Athens community. I have coordinated several service opportunities, including visits to assisted living facilities and card making for local essential workers. My hope is that students have a mind to serve while seeking Christ.

How has the pandemic impacted your educational experience at UGA and CPH? What insights have you gained as a public health student?

I never would have guessed that COVID-19 would be instrumental as a part of my curriculum. Whether you’re in epidemiology, health promotion or gerontology, it is crazy to think that public health students have a current, ongoing public health crisis to use as an example to learn more about research, data, application of theory, etc. My professors often used the pandemic as a basis of discussion, which has been a platform to not only educate students about the data but also deliberate on what could be improved. I would say that I have a clearer understanding of what inequities the pandemic reveals. While many health disparities existed long before COVID-19, the pandemic has widened these cracks in the system where more light is being shed on these disparities for discussion and action.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to continue my master’s program in public health with a concentration in health promotion & behavior for my final year as a Double Dawg. I will graduate with my MPH in Spring 2023. My goal is to become a food security specialist to advocate for food security and food justice within underserved communities in local and global settings, because everyone has the right to food!

Posted on January 26, 2022.