Alumni Highlight- Janelle J. Jacobson, PhD in Health Services Research, Administration and Policy (2014)
Hometown: Badger, Iowa
Current career position: I am Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator, State University of New York at Potsdam. While at SUNY Potsdam, I have played an integral role in the development and implementation of a new Masters of Science in Community Health degree program. I have also had the opportunity to guide our students through their professional project experience, which has been a very rewarding experience.
This position has also allowed me to work with key community health organizations around assessment and strategic planning. Recently, I worked with a large group of community health organizations in St. Lawrence County to complete a community health needs assessment and community health improvement plan. This opportunity allowed me to demonstrate the skills that I learned during my program to impact the health of the larger public health community in New York. The landscape of this part of the country makes the provision of health care and public health services uniquely challenging. In addition to the well documented issues associated with rural health care, we also needed to take into account mountainous terrain and winter weather with our planning process. All of this was an enlightening experience and led to a greater understanding of how location can lead to different health outcomes and approaches.
Living in the “North Country” has been a unique experience. Living 25 miles from the Canadian border means I regularly cross the border to go shopping and see a movie. I also have embraced the great outdoors, climbing mountains in the Adirondacks and enjoying snowshoeing in the winter. It is an interesting way of life.
What do you value most about your time in our program? The people that I met at UNMC have helped me grow into the person and educator that I am today. The guidance that I received from faculty and staff supported me through the significant challenges associated with higher education and the friendships I developed over the course of my program are invaluable.
Advice for current students: Networking is an incredibly important part of the work we do in public health. The person sitting in the lecture next to you today is your colleague of tomorrow and working together is an important part of how public health work gets done. Learning to work with each other is an important skill set that cannot be undervalued.