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Class of 2024 Public Health Awards

A room is filled with students with research posters and visitors

On May 1, Public health students presented posters and documentation describing their senior-year Capstone internships to faculty, staff, internship supervisors, and members of outside agencies.
The Department of Public Health is pleased to recognize the outstanding work of its graduating students:

Academic Excellence in Public Health

This award is given to the graduating senior from the Department of Public Health with the highest cumulative GPA in public health core courses.

Recipient: Creagan Mee

A young women stands next to a research poster
Olivia Battell received the Excellence in Public Health Practice Award for designing a program and implementation plan to address the effects of opioid use in maternal and child health.

Excellence in Public Health Practice

This award is given to a graduating senior who demonstrates superior knowledge and skill in public health practice.

Recipient: Olivia Battell

An example of Olivia’s public health innovation is her work to design a program and implementation plan to address the effects of opioid use in maternal and child health. She and her team designed a program called M.O.T.H.E.R. (Mobile Opportunities for Treatment, Healing, Empathy & Recovery) to reach populations that face housing or transportation insecurity. Their proposal was shared with the District Attorney’s Office and Onondaga County Health Department Substance Use Initiatives division. Olivia has also been engaged in community harm reduction syringe exchange programs and lead poisoning prevention in Syracuse.

Public Health Leadership Award

This award recognizes a graduating senior whose leadership role within Syracuse University organizations, volunteer service, or campus departments has greatly impacted the campus the larger community level.

Recipient: Alejandro Parra

Through his roles in public health interventions, veteran rehab programs, accessible transport, mentorship initiatives, and military training leadership, Alejandro has showcased exceptional leadership talents across diverse areas related to health, equity, and broader community service. Alejandro is the recipient of the Mentor of the Year award from the Office of Multicultural Affairs for exceptional guidance provided to six mentees to foster academic, professional, and personal growth.

Alejandro also served as a Senior Career Ambassador at Falk College to guide and prepare fellow public health students. As a member of ROTC, Alejandro conducted field tactics training and guided junior ROTC cadets to aid in their leadership development. On campus he served as a Residential Assistant and worked with Syracuse University Medical Transport. As an intern for Onondaga County, he has served as a trusted point of contact for those battling addiction. He also interned with the Syracuse VA as a Physical Therapy Intern and Recreational Therapy Volunteer, leading therapeutic initiatives to aid veteran rehabilitation and recovery.

Research Award for Public Health

This award is given to a graduating senior who has engaged in public health research.

Recipient: Olivia Fowler

Olivia has worked as a SOURCE student research assistant for two years and has participated in two faculty mentored research projects, “Research Ethics for All: Research Ethics Training for Patient Stakeholders with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” and “Project ENGAGE: Including Adults with Intellectual Disability in Precision Medicine Research.”

Social Justice in Public Health

This award is given to a graduating student whose volunteer work, research, and career goals focus on the elimination of inequalities in health.

Recipient: Lacey Martin

Lacey’s interest in public health stem from her desire to understand health beyond a biological perspective and her interest in addressing health inequities that disproportionately affect minority communities. Lacey has interned with Grow NYC to promote healthy nutritional habits, access to affordable fresh produce, and establishing community gardens for underserved minority and elderly communities.

Excellence in the Public Health Graduate Program

This award recognizes an outstanding student or students in the public health graduate program and is based on academics, quality of internship outcomes, and impact at the campus or larger community level.

Recipient: Michelle Asiedu-Danso

Michelle has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her graduate studies and received an award for her presentation at the 2023 American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting. During her time in the MPH program, she volunteered with the New York Wastewater Surveillance Network, where her analytical findings in disease monitoring disparities have been shared with state and local health departments to address these disparities. She was also selected to attend the 2023 Conference on Public Health In Africa (CPHIA) in Zambia. Michelle is also a candidate for the 2024 Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Work.

Recipient: Julia Chukwu-Boms

During Julia’s internship at the Onondaga County Health Department, she created educational materials for households throughout Onondaga County to inform them of actions they can take to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. She also created systems maps to facilitate stakeholder collaboration and empower community members to identify funding resources for older home renovations at risk of lead exposure, and testing for lead in drinking water in a centralized resource. She has also participated in faculty research projects and co-authored newspaper content analysis of childhood lead poisoning as an environmental justice issue among people of color.

Graduate Student Marshall

The Marshall is selected for their achievement in scholarship, academic honors, student organization involvement, leadership, and collegiality, as well as campus and community engagement and service.

Recipient: Torojah Williams

Torojah has participated in community-based programs to improve health on campus for Syracuse University students and across the city of Syracuse. Torojah led an initiative to collect and disseminate women’s health products to local pantries to reduce disparities and period poverty that affect women in our communities. She also participated in the Broadstreet Institute’s Datathon, where she modeled and visualized data to improve maternal health outcomes.

Undergraduate Student Marshall

The Undergraduate Class Marshal is a student who exemplifies the spirit of the senior class and has excelled during their time at Syracuse. Campus and community engagement and services is an additional consideration for this award.

Recipient: Siya Kumar

During her Internship at Upstate Cancer Center, Siya created cancer prevention marketing materials and planned large scale events for people affected by cancer. Siya is the President of Global Medical Brigades and led a volunteer group of student and healthcare professionals conducting a medical clinic in rural Panama and Honduras, where they provided care to over 500 patients. Siya also raised over $90,000 in monetary donations and received hundreds of in-kind healthcare donations. Siya is a Medical Case Management Assistant for the Institute of Human Services, providing services for homeless and disabled patients. At Syracuse University, she is Co-Chair of Health and Wellness for Students Association, part of the Barnes Center Office of Health Promotion Team Leaders, and the President of the Hindu Students Association. In the community, she builds community gardens with Interfaith Works, is a Social Media Ambassador for the Samaritan Counseling Center, and organized the YWCA Week Without Violence Event for the mayor and county executive. She assisted Dr. Sandra Lane with lead poisoning research by presenting literature reviews to Legal Services CNY.

Falk Scholar

Falk College Scholars represent undergraduate students in Falk College who display academic excellence, exceptional campus and community engagement, and personal integrity.

Recipients: Creagan Mee and Ainsley MacLachlan

Graduate School Master’s Prize for Falk College

This annual award is selected by the graduate school with one master’s student in each of Syracuse University’s schools and colleges who have demonstrated excellence in scholarship and research in graduate study.

Recipient: Nicole Pulido

Nicole has a 4.0 GPA and has been actively involved in research. She worked as a research assistant with Dr. David Larsen on wastewater surveillance to inform municipalities on pathogens/substances detected in wastewater. Her research culminated in her co-authorship of a high-impact scholarly publication in 2024 titled “Precision of public health in schools enabled by wastewater surveillance: A case study of COVID-19 in an Upstate New York middle-high school campus during the 2021–2022 academic year.”

Nicole worked with the Allyn Family Foundation conducting data analysis on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey findings. She has also worked with the Madison County Department
of Health conducting applied research.