Student Highlight – Jesse Davy is an MPH student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Public Health (COPH). Jesse is originally from Norfolk, Nebraska, and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Jesse and his wife Michel have three children—Hudson, Isabella, and Story Lee (ages 8, 4, and 1, respectively).
In 2007, Jesse became aware of the rise in sexual trafficking of underage teens, and through a variety of avenues, discovered the need for professionals from diverse disciplines to put their expertise to work. To him, public health seemed to provide an incredible set of tools to engage adolescents in at-risk populations from a variety of angles, and more specifically, epidemiology seemed like a powerful way to understand the scope of the issue. His older brother Ben Davy completed the MPH program in 2010, and strongly endorsed the COPH at UNMC.
Public health, and epidemiology in particular, has provided Jesse with the tools to assess the nature of one of the worst social diseases of our time. Determining the extent of child sex trafficking has been a profoundly challenging task for researchers at every level. The nature of the crime and the characteristics of the victims leave a trail that is not easy to find, let alone quantify. Jesse’s passion is to help to define the disease in more adequate and nuanced terms; present the findings to those who provide aftercare, prevention, and investigation. Finally, Jesse hopes to create systems and coalitions to proactively track and interact with the problem.
As with all public health issues knowing how, how fast, where, and through whom it is spreading gives health professionals a platform to address root causes and work to stem outbreaks. Through the last five years, Jesse had the opportunity, with his wife Michel, to provide direct care for victims of sex trafficking, and this opportunity has provided an incredibly valuable look into the nature and methods used to damage vulnerable, compromised adolescent females.
Trafficking is a local, national, and global issue. Unfortunately, trafficking is prevalent in the city of Omaha. Fortunately, the community is learning about and responding to the problem. Jesse would like to see a tracking system put in place and a single reporting site identified for each county, so that responses can be streamlined and coordinated. It is a challenge that seems worthy of a career, and Jesse is thankful to the faculty and staff at UNMC and the COPH for the guidance, education, encouragement, and oversight that he has been given.