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Public Health Events

Guest Speaker, Guadalupe X. “Suchi” Ayala, Professor of Public Health presented Population-Based Approaches to Promoting Healthy Eating

The house was packed with kinesiology and public health students last month when Guadalupe X. “Suchi” Ayala, Professor of Public Health at San Diego State University, discussed ways of promoting healthy eating practices to mass populations.

Introduced by her brother, Emiliano C. Ayala, Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services (CEHHS), Suchi inspired and educated CSU San Marcos students and faculty with data, scenarios and real-life experiences that encourage community members to eat healthier, but also to be sure that their children are eating healthier.

audience listening to Dr. Ayala
Dr. Ayala smiling

Suchi has led the development of numerous evidence-based interventions, including multi-component interventions that involved working with small-to-medium-sized Latino grocery stores (tiendas) to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among store customers through social and structural changes; preventing and controlling childhood obesity through policy, systems and environmental changes; and, working with restaurants to promote healthy child menus.

In her research, Suchi believed it was important to work directly with community partners and to gather data quickly. She did not predict that grocery and restaurant managers would be so cooperative; to her surprise, they were eager and interested in collaborating. Managers were concerned; they did not want to lose customers due to health issues or poor eating habits.

audience members
full room of attendees

Suchi began by researching family eating habits, the food choices they made and who made the choices.

Her approach to researching disparities was initially focused on behaviors and targeting the leading causes of chronic diseases such as diet. She also focused on family dynamics, as well as where foods were purchased and where families were dining. In the grocery stores (tiendas), Suchi’s mission was to promote the sales and consumption of fruits and vegetables by making them more available and promoting them to customers and employees. In restaurants, she worked with managers to redesign children menus to make them appealing to children and healthy.

“It was successful,” Suchi said. We shifted about 23% of purchases from unhealthy to healthy in menu plus versus 17% in menu-only restaurants. We can’t feed our kids just boats of cheese and French fries.”

In addition to her role as a professor at SDSU, Suchi also directs the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH) and SDSU HealthLINK.

“It was truly an honor and pleasure to speak with the students, staff, and faculty of CSUSM. This institution will always hold a special place in my heart!”

This event was sponsored by the Instructionally Related Activities award and is part of the Distinguished Public Health Speaker Series; Hosted by the CSUSM Health Disparities Working Group.

For more information, please contact:

Guadalupe X. “Suchi” Ayala
Professor of Public Health at San Diego State University

CSUSM Public Health Students and Alumni attend “2018 Live Well Annual” Event

Attendees smiling in a row

(L-R) Danny Barajas, County Worker; Angelo Salvador, MPH student (grad Fall ’19); Lisa Bandong, MPH Faculty; Katya Davila, MPH Student (grad Fall ’19)

Live Well Advance is an annual event that connected over 1,200 hundred partners and stakeholders throughout San Diego County, on Tuesday, October 2, in downtown San Diego.

CSUSM Public Health alumni, students and faculty were there to advance the shared vision of a healthy, safe and thriving San Diego region and they were able to network, learn about new tools and best practices and participate in breakout sessions.

“With over 1,200 participants in attendance, the Live Well Advance is an invaluable experience for our graduate students allowing them to engage and network with local agencies, and obtain the immediate needs for the county of San Diego through the interactive breakout sessions,” said Lisa Bandong, MPH Instructor and Internship Coordinator.

“I was so proud to be part of a community that had put together such an amazing event….learned about resources available for our youth by our community members and was blown away by the amount of support and guidance available to all of us by the public health community.” – Dunya Bayat, MPH Student.

MPH Students hugging(L-R) Monica Aguilera, MPH Student (grad Spring ’19); Dunya Bayat, MPH Student (grad Spring ’19); Usman Akram, MPH Student (grad Fall ’18)  

“I originally signed up for the Live Well Advance event after seeing Professor Bandong’s invitation through e-mail. I thought it would be a great opportunity to network as well as to get informed on everything related to Public Health in San Diego County. It was an incredible experience. There were over 1,200 community members that came together to connect and discuss how we can all work together to help San Diego residents live a healthier life. I am extremely ecstatic to see and be a part of the future of Public Health. The future is bright for all of San Diego because we have great leaders to learn from and we have each other to strengthen partnerships and “Connect the Unconnected to Live Well.”
– Monica Aguilera, MPH Student

“I signed up to volunteer and support the County of San Diego’s Live Well Advance. It was an amazing event for members in the community and Live Well San Diego partners to get updated on all great partnerships and efforts that are happening throughout the County. The breakout sessions sparked great conversation on how to continue these efforts moving forward and it allowed community partners the opportunity to network. It was a wonderful experience and I am hopeful to attend again in the future. There were over 1,300 attendees that came to discuss how, through partnerships, we can all work together to achieve the Live Well San Diego vision of a healthy, safe, and thriving San Diego County. Events such as this excite me to soon become a profession in the public health community. Great leadership has advanced this vision and I am looking forward to seeing how far San Diego County can progress.”  
– Usman Akram, MPH Student, County of San Diego HHSA Graduate Student Worker

Smiling attendees(L-R) Angelo Salvador, Lisa Bandong, Katya Davila

“Such an astounding event! To meet and learn a large number of San Diego public health personalities is a great way to get involved in the public health sector. The different breakout seminars has its own individual area of specialty that favors your interest. This experience will truly shape my future profession to better serve the communities. Kudos to Live Well Advance 2018!” – Angelo Salvador

Two dinner attendees smiling(L-R) Katya Davila and JR Martinez

 “I noticed how concepts we learned in class are applied in the “real-world” and interacted with other members that were very knowledgeable and helpful.  I even got the opportunity to meet with keynote speaker JR Martinez who was so motivational on his speech.  Overall it was a great experience.”
Katya Davila, MPH Student

Packed house of attendeesAlma Detten ’17 and Lisa Bandong watching keynote speak JR Martinez

Learn more about the Master of Public Health degree program at CSU San Marcos.
@csusm @cehhs #GoPH #PublicHealth #MPH_csusm  #LiveWellAdvance #LiveWellSD

Bringing Public Health Information to the Homeless

soup kitchen

Vista soup kitchen

CSUSM professor Sharon Hamill (left) and Master of Public Health student Kristal Favieri (right) with Austie O’Malley, who started a soup kitchen 35 years ago at St. Francis Catholic Church in Vista.

Some people structure their lives around acronyms like YOLO (You Only Live Once) or WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?).

For Sharon Hamill, it’s all about WGYLM? The letters stand for “What Gives Your Life Meaning?” – she has trademarked both the phrase and an accompanying logo – which dovetails with Hamill’s role as the faculty director of the CSU Institute for Palliative Care at Cal State San Marcos. A big part of the end-of-life decisions associated with palliative care is an advance health care directive, a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.

It’s not exactly a subject that most people welcome.

“When you ask people if they have an advance directive,” Hamill said, “they start to get really nervous.”

Hamill, though, is a major advocate of initiating such tough but vital conversations. She had been volunteering for a couple of years at a weekly soup kitchen held at St. Francis Catholic Church in Vista when she decided to introduce education about advance care directives to the highly vulnerable population – largely homeless people – whom the kitchen serves.

“This is a group that is notoriously hard to get to in terms of advance care planning and advance directives,” Hamill said. “They are also some of the biggest users of hospital emergency rooms, and when they come in and are unconscious, the hospital is truly at a loss. They might not even know who this person is.”

Last fall, armed with a grant from the Tri-City Healthcare District, Hamill recruited two CSUSM Master of Public Health students for an internship in which they would work with her on multiple projects related to palliative care, including at the soup kitchen. In the spring, Kristal Favieri and Zakirah Hasan began helping out there once a week. They started by asking diners to fill out a needs assessment in terms of information about services. After tallying the results and doing some research, they produced a series of cards to be handed out with information on where to find important resources like health care, mental health services, employment options, food and hot meals, and clothing, shelter and showers.

Zakirah has completed the master’s program and now has a full-time job, but each Monday afternoon, Kristal goes to St. Francis and sets up a table with the resource cards – along with a stack of advance directive forms. She also offers free items that most homeless people need – things like socks and toothbrushes – as an incentive to get them to the table and have difficult discussions that they might not be interested in.

“Advance care is the one that gets paid less attention to because people see the deodorant and the socks,” said Kristal, who’s on track to earn her master’s in December after graduating from CSUSM in 2012 with a degree in psychology.

“I’m like, ‘Hey, guys, I got these treats; come talk to me!’ But it’s the hardest to talk about. You have to show a lot of nonjudgmental rapport. A lot of these people have stuff going on. You have to make them realize that you’re not there to preach to them, just to help them.”

Kristal recently arranged for county officials to come to the soup kitchen to administer hepatitis A shots to diners, and Hamill took the opportunity to tack on a workshop about advance directives. But she knows she’s fighting an uphill battle.

“We keep track of how many advance directive forms are taken,” Hamill said. “It would be great to know how many are filled out, but there’s so much emphasis on building trust that you have to be really careful how much you ask of them to get their information.”

Still, Hamill is too invested in WGYLM? not to press forward – whether it’s with homeless people at the soup kitchen or with members of her own family. This Christmas, she’s giving advance directives to her three sons, who range in age from 28 to 21.

“Their gift to me,” she said, “will be filling it out and giving it to their doctor.”

Love Your Heart

MPH Students & SoN students partner to take blood pressures and educate CSUSM about good health for the Live Well San Diego initiative.

Resilence Film Screening

MPH Students make a presence at the "Resilence" Film Screening 

Alma Detten (alumni, 2017) and Fatima Shakil for the MPH program assisted by tabling for Live Well San Diego at the recent Resilience Screening event on January 29th, 2018 (Fatima helped plan and coordinate).

resilience table

MPH Students attend the Southern California Health Policy Conference 

Recent MPH graduate, Olivia Nolan and Instructor Lisa Bandong attended the 8th Annual California Breastfeeding Summit. Ms. Nolan presented her group capstone project, Lactation Supportive Campus Environment: An Analysis of Student-Parent Breastfeeding Experiences on CSUSM, at the conference’s poster session over the two day conference, where clinicians and policy makers work together to address breastfeeding public health disparities.

Lisa Badong smiling
poster being reviewed

Spring 2018 MPH Orientation Welcomes New Students

The Department of Public Health welcomed it's 4th cohort that included a total of 8 matriculated MPH students. During the orientation, Public Health faculty made presentations on various topics including the cohort and hybrid model, assignment of advisors and advising needs, course sequencing, information provided in the MPH Handbook, accessing Moodle from Cougar Courses, internships, and integrative learning experiences (thesis and capstone projects). Spring semester classes at CSUSM started on Monday, January 22nd, 2017.

spring 2018 cohort

MPH Students attend the Southern California Health Policy Conference 

Students from the CSUSM Master of Public Health Department attended The 2017 Southern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference held in San Diego. This conference focused on California health policy, organizing panels and presentations into four main themes: Policy and Politics in California Health Care, Trending Issues in SoCal Health Care, Topics Facing Medi-Cal and the Public Sector, and Innovation and Payment. In some of the specific presentations, students had opportunities to learn about integrating social determinants of health into programs; the potential impact of upcoming Federal legislation on health care; the impact the upcoming elections may have on health care; and ways to develop a workforce for health care. The students walked away from the conference energized with the excitement of possibilities for future research, and an increased appreciation of aspects of public [health] policy conference attendees

MPH Students attend the Couny of San Diego's Live Well Advance

CSUSM MPH students attended the County of San Diego’s Live Well Advance on Nov 8 with 1K other county community members. These students were in attendance representing their internship sites: County of San Diego North Regions Community Health Promotions and Somali Family Resource Center. The LWSD Advance uses the Social Ecological Model to engage the community through multiple levels of influence to improve health of: individuals, groups, institutions, community, and public policy. This type of influence is right up our alley in CSUSM’s MPH program.

live well group smiling
 live well group selfie

Congratulations to SDCBC Breastfeeding Champion 2017: Lisa Bandong, MPH! Ms. Bandong was honored at the San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's Annual Gala on October 7th, 2017.  She is a Breastfeeding advocate in her personal and professional life having been both a breasfeeding student and employee at a university. Her work allowed her the opportunity to see firsthand the varying degree of support and accommodations available to breastfeeding students and employees on campuses across California.

lisa award
Lisa holding award smiling

Dr. Thang (Hue University, Vietnam) Visits CSUSM

Dr. Vo Van Thang, MD, MPH, PhD, (Dean, Faculty of Public Health/Director, Institute for Community Health Research at Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vietnam) visited California State University San Marcos on September 1st, 2017.  During his visit, Dr. Thang held meetings with faculty and staff from the Office of Global Education, Department of Public Health, and Division of Community Engagement. Discussions focused on sustaining and expanding the existing memorandum of understanding between CSUSM and Hue University to include Internship opportunities for CSUSM MPH students, research collaborations among faculty members, and international exchange programs with CSUSM host families for Hue University students. It is anticipated that these partnership programs would create cross-cultural, educational and professional experiences for faculty and students. 

  • Dr. Thang
  • Dr. Thang & Dr. Iyiegbuniwe
  • Dr. Thang welcoming
  • MPH Faculty
  • Dr. Thang with Faculty
  • Meeting
  • Dr. Thang in Palm Court
  • Luncheon
  • Dr. Thang shaking Heidi Burney’s hand

Fall 2017 MPH Orientation Welcomes New Students

The 11th Annual Graduate Studies Orientation & Mixer was held on August 23rd, 2017. The Department of Public Health held its breakout session in the evening for the 3rd cohort that included a total of 25 matriculated MPH students.  During the orientation, Public Health faculty made presentations on various topics including the cohort and hybrid model, assignment of advisors and advising needs, course sequencing, information provided in the MPH Handbook, accessing Moodle from Cougar Courses, internships, and integrative learning experiences (thesis and capstone projects). Phuong Nam Nguyen (CEHHS’s Graduate Student Services Coordinator) provided additional information regarding the services her office provides to students. Fall semester classes at CSUSM started on Monday, August 28, 2017.

Orientation 2017

CSUSM & CEHHS Convocation Welcomes Dr. Asher Santos

Dr. AsherLev (Asher) Santos, our new Global Health faculty member was introduced and recognized at both the University and CEHHS Convocation on August 24th, 2017. Dr. Santos has acquired significant teaching and research experiences in Global Health and has contributed to publications and projects at various institutions in San Diego during the past few years. He can speak four different languages proficiently and is working on mastering two others. We are very delighted to have Dr. Santos join the Department of Public Health at CSUSM.

Asher Santos 

CSU Health Policy Conference

Our Master of Public Health students had a wonderful time learning about how legislation is passed by attending a health committee meeting and hearing bills on marijuana, diabetes, and hearing aids. They also made an appointment and spoke with the Chief of Staff for Assembly member Marie Waldron, who represents the 75th Assembly District, representing CSUSM! They also heard from Diane Dooley, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with a few other lobbyists and politicians. It was a wonderful trip overall, funded by the California Endowment, and coordinated by CSULA.

Health students
crowd in front of buildling
health students smiling

Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy 60th Anniversary, Vietnam

CSUSM delegation celebrates Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy 60 year anniversary and CSUSM Nursing Faculty Lien Ngo-Nguyen and Dean Powell congratulate CHEER Scholarship students with their certificates.

event attendees
scholarshhip students

Inaugural Advisory Board Meeting deliberates on curriculum and vision for the MPH program

The inaugural meeting of the newly constituted MPH Advisory Board met on April 14, 2017. In their presentations, the faculty members provided an overview of the current students, curriculum, cohort structure/course sequencing, and initial application process for accreditation of the MPH program. The members deliberated on the need to develop a clear vision of the program, a strategic plan, provide information on students’ demographics, and involvement in community-based projects.

The long-range goal is to establish a good working relationship of trust with the Advisory Board so that members would contribute their advice and expertise to the management and oversight of the program. This will not only ensure sustainability, but will also assure that the MPH program positions itself to take full advantage of the niche and exclusive uniqueness of CSUSM.Smiling faculty

Pictured in order:
Top; Dan Fesperman , John Scott, JD, MPH, Erika Ervin (Extended Learning Coordinator), Janell Bryant (MPH Student), Dr. Emmanuel Iyiegbuniwe, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, Dr. Christina Holub, Ph.D., MPH, Kelly Grimes, MPH , Kimberly Israel, MSW, LCSW, Nam Nguyen (CEHHS MPH Advisor), Tana Lepule

Bottom: Chuck Matthews, Ph.D., MBA, Dr. Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D, Lisa Bandong (Internship Coordinator), MPH, Nestor Martinez, Irma Cota, Fernando Sanudo, Dan Steeber, Dr. Sharon Hamill, Ph.D., Heidi Burney (MPH Program Coordinator), Dr. Joely Proudfit, Ph.D., Dr. Deborah Morton, Ph.D., M.A.

Recognizing the Master of Public Health Program at CSUSM

The Master of Public Health (MPH) program is proud to recognize Ramona Prado-Olmos, Rebecca Krogstad, and Jacob Atkins for their participation in the recent Symposium on Student Research, Creative Activities, & Innovation, which took place on February 24, 2017. CSUSM actively encourages students to participate in research and the new MPH program is excited to contribute to this endeavor!

Their oral presentation was titled: The Pacific Islander Community Health Pilot Study: Preliminary Baseline Findings on Physical Activity, Body Composition, and Healthy Eating. Mentored by Dr. Christina Holub, Assistant Professor in Public Health, the students presented findings from the Pacific Islander Community Health Pilot Study, which is an academic-community partnership that aims to improve the wellbeing of Pacific Islanders through community-driven and culturally tailored programs. Read MPH article.

Love your Heart Event

Hope you had a chance to stop by our Blood Pressure Screening booth in the Kellogg Plaza today. Our Public Health & Nursing students were busy with screening CSUSM Cougars!

  • Students at Love Your Heart table
  • Free Blood Pressure Reading booth
  • Blood Pressure participant
  • Blood Pressure participant
  • Blood Pressure participant
  • Love your Heart Event

Dr. Holub recognized in San Diego Union Tribune for her work

San Diego Union Tribune Feature 

"Speaker Christina Holub of Californa State University San Marcos described a different kind of translation, taking basic research education from universities into the community.Holub is part of a team that works with those of Pacific Island ancestry, such as Samoans and Tongans, and native Hawaiians. At the top of their concerns: diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcohol use and cancer."

MPH Spring 2017 Orientation

The Public Health program hosted 20 matriculated students (spring cohort) during its second MPH Orientation on January 23, 2017. During the orientation, Public Health faculty and staff made presentations on various topics including how the cohort model works, advisors and advising needs, course sequencing, information provided in the MPH Handbook, accessing Moodle from Cougar Courses, MPH internships and integrative learning experiences. Additional information was provided by Jennie Ruiz (CSUSM’s Associate Dean of Students), Nam Nguyen (CEHHS’s Graduate Student Services), and Nadia Sandifer and Denise Brown (Financial Aid Office). Also in attendance were staff from Extended Learning and Mr. Jay Franklin (Enrollment Manager at Extended Learning) provided a limited tour of selected areas of the main campus. Last Monday was the first day of classes for spring semester at CSUSM.

2016 American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado

Dr. Emmanuel Iyiegbuniwe, Director for the MPH Program and Dr. Christina Holub recently attended the APHA Annual Conference in Denver, CO, October 29- November 2, 2016.  Dr. Iyiegbuniwe’s presentation was titled, "Assessment of Indoor Air Quality at a public housing unit for older adult population in Bowling Green, Kentucky" and Dr. Holub, along with her former MPH student, presented a poster on "Assessing the Contribution of Assimilative and Integrative Modes of Acculturation on Obesity Among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in San Diego, CA”.

APHA's Annual Meeting and Expo brings together more than 12,000 of public health practitioners and students from across the U.S. and around the world to network, educate and share experiences. The theme of this year’s APHA conference is "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health"

Holub apha

2016 ABRCMS Conference - Tampa, FL

Dr. Iyiegbuniwe attended the 16th Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) from Nov. 9-13, 2016. During the conference, Iyiegbuniwe served as a judge for students’ posters in the area of Social & Behavioral Sciences and Public Health.

ABRCMS is one of the largest professional conferences for underrepresented minority students, military veterans, and persons with disabilities to pursue advanced training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The conference is sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) and managed by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).


Emmanuel in Flordia

First cohort of students for new MPH program

The first Master of Public Health New Student Orientation kicked off this week at CSUSM!  (Read First Cohort article)

New professor tackles student stress with Cogtoolz planner

Dr. Christina Holub, recently hired as an assistant professor of public health at Cal State San Marcos, created a wellness-focused academic planner to help students better cope with school-life balance. Read Cogtoolz planner article

CSUSM hires first Director of Public Health

Dr. Emmanuel Iyiegbuniwe, an educator with more than 25 years of experience in academic administration, teaching and research, has been appointed the Director of Public Health at CSUSM. Dr. Iyiegbuniwe will provide vision, leadership and administrative direction for a new Master of Public Health program in the early stages of accreditation. Read Public Health Director article