Three Health and Physical Activity Doctor of Education (EdD) students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education were selected for a 2021 Salk Health Fellowship, a nine-week program focused on re-envisioning public health in the United States.
The emerging health equity activists—Caroline Passerello, Madeline Neely, and Tiffany Smietana-Lysell—will learn from regional and national experts on how to apply new solutions to persistent public health problems.
“This fellowship affords me the opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team to improve my design-thinking skills and reimagine solutions to public health challenges,” says Passerello.
Passerello is a community coordinator and instructor in the dietitian nutritionist program at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. Throughout her career, Passerello has strived to make health-smart choices the easiest choice at the individual, community, and systems levels. With this fellowship opportunity, she plans to continue this mission and focus on prevention from a public health lens.
As a family and consumer sciences (FCS) teacher at Greensburg Salem High School in Westmoreland County, Smietana brings a different perspective.
“I want to be an advocate for my students and their future,” says Smietana-Lysell. “ Growing up in a rural area myself, I experienced firsthand the unequal distribution of resources for public health. What better advocate than someone who has lived through this particular public health issue?”
Neely, a middle school health teacher at Quaker Valley School District in Allegheny County, was drawn to the fellowship experience because of the quality of the cohort.
“There’s quite a mix of people with different backgrounds from all different health areas so I’m hoping to learn from them and apply the knowledge to being a better educator and to improving my EdD dissertation,” says Neely.
The three Pitt Education students say they feel well-prepared for the Salk fellowship because of their experiences in the Pitt EdD program.
“Coursework at Pitt Education is rigorous, and the asynchronous courses are the same quality,” says Smietana-Lysell. “Now that I am in my second year of the EdD program, I feel confident in my abilities to communicate effectively and have a diverse and open mindset going into this fellowship.”
Passerello, Smietana-Lysell, and Neely also credit the faculty at Pitt Education for supporting their professional development
Their advisor, Sharon Ross, an assistant professor of Health and Human Development, informed the students about the Salk fellowship opportunity.
“I cannot think of better folks to do this important work in public health than these emerging scholar practitioners,” says Ross. “Diverse in their backgrounds and training, they are literally the boots on the ground in working in high schools and higher education to spread messages of health, equity, and community access.”