Student Profile: Isabella Pollard

Through service-learning opportunities available through the College of Public Health, health promotion major and CPH student ambassador Isabella Pollard has been helping older adults lead healthier and happier lives.

B.S. in Health Promotion

May 2021

Gainesville, GA

What attracted you to a degree and/or certificate in public health?

It was actually quite a journey of trial and error for me to end up in the public health field. I first came in as a chemistry major with the intention of becoming a radiologist. I quickly realized I wanted to focus on a different way of helping people. I wanted to help develop program plans, aid in prevention efforts, and teach people the skills they need to be healthy. That is when I realized that public health was the field for me.

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

The highlight of my time at the College has been taking classes in Health Promotion and meeting some super amazing professors. The wide array of classes I have taken so far has truly enhanced my professional abilities and taught me so much; from learning how to impact the health of a community in HPRB 3700, to technical writing and how to do a brief report in HPRB 5410W, and, finally, to writing a literature review in HPRB 5010. I have also met some very kind, helpful, and amazing professors along the way that have helped me develop into a more well-rounded student.

Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?

One volunteer experience that was particularly meaningful was at Compassionate Care Hospice (now called Amedisys), a facility in Athens that offers nursing care, home health aides, spiritual support, bereavement counseling, respite care, and other services for patients experiencing terminal illness. As a volunteer, I did a lot of work with the bereavement support team and assisted with the organization of patient records. I helped create pamphlets and little gifts for older adults that attended an annual Veteran’s Day event.

Because of this volunteer experience, I knew that I wanted to explore and delve deeper into the field of gerontology. It allowed me to learn much more about older adults, the issues that they face, and what is being done to help specifically with hospice services. It also showed me how kind and diverse the population of older adults are. This group is full of wisdom and knowledge, and the experience made me realize that I want to give back to a community that has given and taught me so much.

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

In Spring 2020, I was named a Presidential Scholar and that placed me in the top 11% of students enrolled in the College of Public Health. Also, I am currently an Undergraduate Student Ambassador in the College of Public Health, and, since the beginning of 2020, I have served as treasurer of the Future Health Promoters Club. Most recently, became a Peer Ally in the Dawgs Together program, which has been very meaningful so far. The program connects incoming students with campus student leaders with the aim of helping them engage and thrive at UGA. This is the first year this program has been implemented, so I am super excited that I get to be a part of it.

What did you do for your internship?

During this past summer, I interned at the Aging Division at the Georgia Department of Human Services. I did a lot of work in data management and integrity. We would look through many of the data systems, and work with members across the team to identify if the systems were doing what they were supposed to, were accurate, and were efficient. We would troubleshoot and problem-solve in order to make the data systems as efficient and accurate as possible. Data integrity was a major component of the internship. I also worked a lot with policy. When I interned, many policies were being created and edited and I got to assist with those tasks.

What have you learned from the internship?

During this internship, I learned about all of the work that goes into a program before it can be implemented in a population. There has to be enough funding, lots of research and evidence-based findings must be present, and there are many contracts and/or policies that have to be in place.

What was the biggest challenge faced during your internship?

I think that the biggest challenge that I faced during the internship was just having to do everything completely remotely. My internship supervisor was very organized and made sure that my remote internship worked as smoothly and efficiently as possible, and he did a great job. It was just difficult at times to try to develop vibrant relationships with coworkers when you do not see them in person. However, I tried my best to adapt and I think that I made the situation work as best as I could and got to know the awesome people I worked with.

What insights have you gained as a public health student?

As a public health student, I have learned the importance of spreading accurate and reliable public health information. Throughout this pandemic, the public has been filled with scary rumors and false information. This information can often drive certain behaviors in individuals. This pandemic has really shown me the importance of making sure the public knows how to fact check their information sources, and to make sure the information they see is actually accurate.

Posted on October 14, 2020.