Ashante Dobbs

Ashante DobbsTrack: Prevention Science

What is your professional background and where do you currently work?

I am a health communication specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I help CDC programs plan, implement, and evaluate their communication campaigns.

Why did you enroll in the Executive MPH (EMPH) program?

I wanted to learn to speak the language of public health. I already had the communication expertise to effectively perform my job at CDC. I just needed the public health background to take my career to the next level. As a result, I am now better able to translate CDC's science into actionable, easy-to-understand communication for the public.

Since you have enrolled, what is the most valuable skill you have learned in the EMPH program?

I've learned a number of concepts integral to public health practice—from surveillance and informatics to epidemiology and evaluation. The EMPH program has also introduced me to areas of public health that were previously unfamiliar to me, including policy and community needs assessment. I have had several "Ah ha!" moments as a student in this program!

What advice do you wish someone had given you prior to enrollment?

Getting your MPH is a marathon, not a sprint! Embrace the coursework and distance-learning experience. Pace yourself. Don't be afraid to chart unfamiliar terrain and explore concepts and courses that are outside of the norm of what you do. I never thought that I would fall in love with public health policy, boots-on-the-ground community needs assessment, or grant writing...but I did. And most importantly, enjoy the EMPH ride! It won't last forever!

What is the title of your practicum or intended practicum?

Engaging Emergency Partners with CDC's Ebola Outbreak Response Practicum Synopsis

I conducted my practicum in the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center Joint Information Center. I supported the JIC Outreach Team in the fall of 2014 during the early months of the agency’s response to the Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

What is the title of your thesis or intended thesis?

An Assessment of Healthy Food Access, Availability, and Affordability at Corner Stores in Atlanta's Bankhead Neighborhood

Thesis Synopsis: My thesis project is taking me back to the Atlanta community where I was raised to conduct a community needs assessment on healthy food access. The objective of the thesis project is to evaluate access, availability, and affordability of healthy foods at corner stores in Atlanta's Bankhead neighborhood. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated this section of the city as a "food desert," which means it comprises low-income census tracts and a significant number of residents who have either limited or no access to fresh and healthy food.