School of Public Health

GSPH’s Newest Program is Now Online

To meet the needs of working professionals the GSPH has launched a new program – a fully online Master’s of Public Health in Health Promotion and Behavior Science. This program is fully accredited and has welcomed the first cohort of 16 students. The program was recently recognized as one of the best online MPH programs in the nation by The rankings were determined using statistical data and guiding principles, including academic quality, affordability, and online competency.

best online masters The program trains students to develop programs and con- duct research to improve public health and eliminate health disparities. The rigorous 20-month curriculum challenges students to think critically about the personal, social, political, and environmental determinants of health-related behaviors, morbidity, early mortality, and health disparities. GSPH director Dr. Hala Madanat notes, that, “Upon graduation, students will be able to develop, implement, evaluate, and critique public health promotion programs. Developed exclusively for early career professionals, this fully online program allows students to study on their own time while continuing to pursue their careers.”

The program runs year-round and is comprised of eight eight-week sessions with roughly a one-week break between sessions. During each of the eight-week sessions, students will take two three-unit online courses. The curriculum includes 10 foundational public health courses, including Health Promotion Program Planning and Assessment, Theoretical Foundations of Health Promotion, and Epidemiology. Students will also choose from several electives and complete a capstone project.

The new program’s content is nearly identical to the on-campus option and many of the instructors are also the same. In the online program, the students interact with each other on a regular basis through video conferencing and group problem solving activities. There are mandatory weekly activities in the online program, but students can complete them at any time of day or night, instead of having to come to class at a set time. Class activities include viewing video lectures, as- signed readings, and weekly activities (done both individually and in groups). In order for students to complete these activities with maximum flexibility, all lectures are pre-recorded and the videos are posted to SDSU’s Blackboard and/or YouTube.

Students who live in the greater San Diego area are welcome to participate in campus activities, such as GSPH fundraisers and guest lecture series, as well as apply for research positions at any of the school’s research labs. They can also attend campus athletic events, use the library, and access the campus gyms.

GSPH Graduate Honored with Zahn Award

Chase WhittakerChase Whittaker was honored with the 2018 Zahn Spirit of Innovation Award, given annually to a graduating senior for exceptional entrepreneurial achievement.

In 2017, Whittaker traveled to Zambia, where he spent a month volunteering at an elementary school in the city of Livingstone. There, he saw children unable to attend school because their families needed them to work to make a living. He saw schools that weren’t able to pay their teachers. Yet he saw also mountains of generosity, compassion, intelligence and diligence. The Zambian people opened their hearts to him, and he couldn’t help but open his in return. “My time in Zambia fundamentally changed and reinvigorated my drive to give back to my community and theirs,” Whittaker said. “Seeing a country full of people in need—yet with the brightest, warmest and most welcoming personalities I’ve ever encountered—impacted me in a way I can hardly describe.”

When he returned to campus, Whittaker founded the SanD/Stone Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and hygiene-focused interventions for vulnerable populations in Zambia, the United States and Mexico. By sourcing grants from philanthropists and funding agencies, and seeking partnerships with local and national companies, non-governmental organizations and governments, SanD/Stone has provided funding for nine months of education for children at a Zambian primary school and helped subsidize teacher salaries and school supplies at that school and others. SanD/Stone also provided more than $2,000 worth of play equipment to nearly a dozen schools and organizations in Zambia.

In recognition of his initiative’s success, a committee of SDSU’s administrative, business and research leadership selected Whittaker as the winner of this year’s Zahn Spirit of Innovation Award, which was presented at the CHHS commencement ceremony.

“Winning this award and earning the respect and recognition of the committee has been one of the single most humbling, unforgettable, and life-changing experiences of my life,” Whittaker said. “I really can’t express just how massive of an honor this truly is.”

The Zahn Spirit of Innovation Award is funded by Irwin Zahn and the Moxie Foundation and comes with a $25,000 scholarship.