Tracy Zeeger and Heather Platter

April 5, 2017

Department of Behavior and Community Health PhD students Tracy Zeeger and Heather Platter brought home the 2017 Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Case Study Competition award last week. The competition, which was previously run only for undergrads, was open for the first time this year to graduate students. Teams of two to three health education students are challenged to solve a real-world health issue using the competencies required of a school or community health educator.

Platter and Zeeger researched and created a 15-minute presentation to address the issue of an increase in cases of driving under the influence of marijuana in Summit County, Colorado. Platter and Zeeger were given case scenarios just two weeks before the competition, which was held in Denver at SOPHE’s annual conference. Their talk had to address all of the Seven Areas of Responsibility for a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

“It was a lot of work; it was intense. But in the end it paid off so well,” Zeeger said. “It was so fun! We were nervous at first, but we knew what to do. We were trained well.”

Research teams were required to work independently as a team, with no input from faculty, peers, or sponsors. Also, they were not permitted to use any technology for their presentation: no PowerPoint, no audio, no internet, social media or mobile devices. Zeeger said that she and Platter were in a room with only the judges. Even their advisor, Dr. Robert Gold, was not permitted to be in the room.

“They handled themselves so professionally,” Dr. Gold said. “It’s a major win that will serve these two talented doctoral students very well.” 

Dr. Gold was especially pleased that a team from the University of Maryland brought home the first SOPHE Case Study Competition award at the graduate level. 

Zeeger and Platter, with the encouragement of Dr. Gold, are hoping to offer a brown bag session, where they will share their winning presentation—which Dr. Gold would very much like to see—and encourage other students to compete next year.

The plaque from their win will hang in the new Behavioral and Community Health conference room.

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Tracy Zeeger, Heather Platter, Robert S. Gold
Related Degree: 
PhD, Behavioral and Community Health