Student Highlight – Amy Houser is an MPH student in the health promotion track. Her hometown is Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Amy has a bachelor of arts degree in both biology and history and received her degrees in 2011 from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
Amy was first drawn to public health after a completing unit on infectious diseases in high school biology. However, for most of high school and college, she planned to pursue a degree in medicine. This plan changed during her junior year of undergraduate study. She learned more about the field of public health and the diversity of areas in which she could focus, which ultimately led to her decision to pursue education in public health. After graduation in 2011, she participated in a year of service with AmeriCorps at the Siouxland District Health Department (SDHD) in Sioux City, Iowa. At the SDHD, Amy coordinated and developed childhood wellness initiatives such as the Live Healthy Iowa Kids Governor’s Challenge, Fall Fitness Day, and Go the Distance Day. As part of these initiatives, she taught health education lessons to preschoolers and elementary students. The main focus of these lessons was healthy foods and drinks and ideas for physical activity. In addition to her efforts in childhood wellness, she worked with her supervisor on several worksite wellness initiatives, such as the Nutritional Environment Measurement Survey- Vending (NEMS-V) and worksite wellness toolkits. The purpose of NEMS-V is to assess and increase the nutritional quality of food available in vending machines. As a result of their efforts last summer, Amy and her team were able to assess and successfully improve the nutritional quality of vending machines at several local businesses.
Amy’s experiences at SDHD were life changing. As a result of these experiences, she decided to pursue a master’s in public health in health promotion. Her career goal is to continue to promote wellness as a health coordinator for a school district or as a health planner at a state or local health department.
Amy says, “The College of Public Health at UNMC is one of the most welcoming organizations I have ever been a part of. It is very clear that the staff and faculty are dedicated to the success of the students and the advancement of public health. I have greatly enjoyed my time thus far in my degree program.”