2023 School of Public Health Alumni Awards

April 26, 2023

Alumni Engagement Award

The SPH is thrilled to present Linda Salgin (Class of 2015) with our inaugural Alumni Engagement Award. Linda exemplifies the notion of “giving back” by mentoring students and playing a key role on our Alumni Board. Furthermore, she supports the San Diego community through her role as a Senior Program Manager at San Ysidro Health, the second largest Federally Qualified Health Center in San Diego County. Ms. Salgin is a first generation Turkish-Armenian American whose family influenced her decision to seek a career in public health. At the age of eighteen, her mother passed away unexpectedly when a blood clot formed in her brain. “I really struggled to understand what happened,” Ms. Salgin reflected. “There was some miscommunication regarding her reproductive health and associated medications [and] I believe that the entire incident was a result of limited health literacy, cultural taboos around health and health communication.” Realizing the importance of cultural competence in health education, Ms. Salgin’s interest in health promotion caught ablaze: “I wanted to help ensure that immigrant communities had the support and resources to make educated decisions about their health.” 

Holding various service and research orientated internships while obtaining her Master of Public Health in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at San Diego State University, Ms. Salgin developed a deep appreciation for the front-line staff who are “at the heart of any research project.” Quickly moving through the ranks of program supervision at San Ysidro Health, she now intentionally advocates “for the hiring, professional development and training of health educators and research assistants” as they are fundamental to the center’s role as a community partner to academic researchers. Ms. Salgin characterized her current position as Senior Program Manager as one that ensures “we can effectively translate what was written into a grant proposal and effectively implement it in our real-world context.” She meets with clinical teams and executives to ensure smooth workflow, strategizes pilot programs and campaigns to increase community awareness of programs under her purview, evaluates project feasibility and acceptability, verifies her teams are on target to meet their contractual obligations, and reports and presents on project status, all while keeping morale high among her staff. “In explaining my role to a mentor, they mentioned the field of Dissemination and Implementation Science and said I should look into it, since I was already applying the practices,” Ms. Salgin recounted. This nudge prompted her to return to SDSU as a student in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health.

“I have a very strong group of colleagues that have talked me through numerous challenges,” Ms. Salgin reflected. Faced with a number of challenges throughout her career, she developed a habit of stepping back to look at the big picture and evaluating possible next steps with support from peers and mentors before moving forward with intention. Ms. Salgin also acknowledged the equal importance of adapting plans to unforeseen changes. “I didn’t get into grad school after undergrad initially,” she explained, “and while that may have been a disappointment at the time, it was the biggest blessing because it was in that time that I found public health. Life won’t always go the way you planned it, and sometimes that’s a good thing.”

Distinguished Alumni Award

The School of Public Health is honored to name Rear Admiral (RADM) Anne Swap as our 2023 Distinguished Alumni. RADM Swap (Class of 1990) is the Director of the National Capital Region Market of the Military Health System, which serves thousands of military personnel and their beneficiaries. Beginning her career with a Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences at James Madison University, RADM Swap interned with her local public health department the summer before her senior year and then enrolled in a business elective course that fall. These two experiences inspired her to pursue a Master of Public Health in Health Services Administration at San Diego State University.

Following her master degree, her “original plan was to enter the Navy for 3 years and try something else,” RADM Swap explained, but now after twenty-one jobs in four countries over thirty-two years, “I can happily say I have worked with some of the most impressive people in the world and I would like to think I have been successful in helping others succeed and making the system better.” In addition to putting her health administration skills into practice, the Navy provided opportunities to hone her leadership skills. She is now a senior leader and is responsible for the joint services healthcare delivery systems in the National Capital Market, Bethesda, Maryland. With a budget of $1.6B and seven medical treatment facilities in the healthcare system and a joint pathology center, RADM Swap oversees the provision of healthcare for over 200,000 beneficiaries. “My day is never boring, because no two days are ever alike.” The broad skillset RAMD Swap gained during her time at SDSU served her well throughout her Naval career, including a useful understanding of infectious disease epidemiology that became particularly relevant during the early days of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

“I have been fortunate to have had excellent mentors and coaches throughout my career,” RADM Swap reflected. Faced with challenges throughout her career, she developed a habit of stepping back to analyze the situation in consultation with her mentors and approaching challenges as opportunities to learn. RADM Swap has also enjoyed working with the people in the medical community, noting “the special kind of courage it takes to choose this profession.” In leading her teams, RADM Swap views work-life balance as vital and encourages her staff to lean into their interests outside of work. “The pandemic took a lot out of everyone, healthcare professionals especially,” she explained. “I like to hike, watch ice hockey (go Knights!), walk my dog Apollo, and spend time with family.”

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