Congratulations to the six deserving recipients of APHA’s Get Ready Scholarship, an award given to high school, undergraduate and graduate students who display a strong commitment to strengthening the nation’s ability to respond to public health threats and improving emergency preparedness.
Students were asked to submit an essay on one of a variety of assigned emergency preparedness topics. APHA awarded $500 scholarships and a one-year APHA membership to the top essays chosen by a panel of judges. Winners were selected based on the quality of their essays on preparedness.
APHA asked high school contestants to write a letter to a newspaper editor or elected official highlighting the importance of funding to prepare for public health emergencies.
Scholarship recipient Craig Earley, a high school senior from Broadus, Mont., discussed the harmful impact spending cuts to federal health programs can have on protecting the public from a disease outbreak and keeping them safe.
“It is in our interest as a society, acting through our government, to prevent such a disaster if we can,” Earley wrote in his letter. “Funding should be preserved for public health and disease prevention programs. Cutting them could have dire consequences for public safety. An effective health infrastructure is about more than comfort and compassion; it is a matter of national security.”
Devika Patel, a high school senior from Parsippany, N.J., the second recipient of the high school scholarship, wrote, “The health infrastructure in our society is the backbone of our well-being, without it, our nation will crumble in the sight of the next public health emergency.”
College undergraduate students were prompted to write about the most important public health emergencies facing our nation and what policymakers should do to address them.
An excerpt from an essay written by Kiyra Crooks, an incoming freshman at Texas Tech University, reads, “The state and federal policymakers have a large role in whether any community or its members survive a national health care emergency such as a natural disaster. Well before any disaster strikes, they need to ensure no laws or policies help strangle response/recovery efforts due to “red tape” or politics.”
In his essay, scholarship recipient Ryan Masterson, an undergraduate at Hunter College in New Haven, Conn., wrote, “The link between nutrition and improved academic performance is well-documented, yet our legislators continue to scratch their heads about how we might improve test scores and compete with other nations who are rapidly gaining rank in subject areas once our exclusive purview. We cannot prioritize education for our children if we are not simultaneously prioritizing the healthy lifestyles that will foster academic achievement.”
Lastly, graduate students submitted essays that explored ways to improve childhood vaccine rates amid the rhetoric from the anti-vaccine movement.
“Education is our best weapon against the anti-vaccine movement. My proposal will significantly increase pro-vaccine education efforts in the primary care setting and in schools,” wrote Kim Kurek, a grad student at George Mason University’s School of Nursing. “The federal policy initiatives I suggest will greatly facilitate these educational endeavors.”
Nicole Pristera, a grad student at Case Western Reserve, argued that public health ought to take to the Internet “to contend with the flashy opposition.”
“I propose the creation of a header that will show up any time “vaccination” is searched (much like the one that appears when searching for currency conversion or stocks) — a header that tracks the number of vaccines that have been given across the U.S. during a particular time frame.”
This is the fourth straight year the Get Ready campaign has supported this scholarship program. For more information on the Get Ready campaign, go here.