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Public Health Practice & Community Engagement Activities

A key function of the Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement is to be an incubator, catalyzer, and central convener of public health practice projects. The majority of these projects will be housed in a variety of the School of Public Health's departments and centers. Larger projects may be housed in the Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement. The office is committed to fostering student learning and development around public health practice and community engagement. We regularly collaborate and advise SPH student groups around their efforts to do public health practice and engage with communities. Below you can find a list of projects and partner projects for the office.

Terrapin Think Tank

The Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement is home to the Terrapin Think Tank - a student-led policy incubator that empowers undergraduate students to engage with the needs of their local community through health policy research, advocacy, and implementation. Learn more about the Terrapin Think Tank below.

The Terrapin Think Tank (TTT) is the University of Maryland's first student-led think tank that seeks to develop innovative, community-driven policy solutions to health challenges facing Prince George's County community members. TTT hopes to be a mechanism through which students from the University of Maryland, faculty from the School of Public Health, and the Prince George's County Health Department can work together to improve the health of the local Prince George's community.

TTT was founded by seniors and co-directors Daniel Fong and Isha Yardi in the Fall of 2021 over a cup of bubble tea. During that conversation, they discussed their vision to create an opportunity for students at UMD to research and advocate for solutions to important health policy issues that improve community members' well-being across Prince George's County. Since its inception, TTT has been working directly with the Prince George's County Health Department to create, advance, and critically evaluate county-wide policy initiatives to promote the health of county residents.

The TTT is excited to partner with the Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement to serve the interests of the Prince George's County community.

Isha Yardi headshot

Isha Yardi (Co-Founder and Co-Director) is a Public Health Science student graduating in May 2023 and is one of the co-founders and co-directors of Terrapin Think Tank. Isha is interested in the development, advocacy, and evaluation of community-centered health policies and programs. Outside of Terrapin Think Tank, Isha is the co-director for health and wellness in the Student Government Association, a member of the Student Health Advisory Committee through the University Health Center, and a research assistant in a social epidemiology lab in the School of Public Health.

Daniel Fong Headshot

Daniel Fong (Co-Founder and Co-Director) is a double major in Neurobiology & Physiology and Health Science, Computer Science, & Public Health Policy graduating in May 2023, and is one of the co-founders and co-directors of Terrapin Think Tank. Daniel is passionate about creating partnerships with governments, healthcare institutions, and community stakeholders as a means to create innovative community-focused public health interventions and policy. Outside of Terrapin Think Tank, Daniel is president of Public Health Beyond Borders, a co-founder of the COVID-19 vaccine health literacy campaign VaccineSafe, and a research assistant in a health policy and management group in the School of Public Health. Following graduation, Daniel will be attending medical school.

Jerry Yang Headshot

Jerry Yang (Associate Director) is a Neurobiology and Physiology major and Astronomy minor graduating in May 2023, and an associate director of Terrapin Think Tank. Jerry has been involved in basic science and clinical research for many years and is interested in applying clinical and public health research to developing health policy. Outside of the research and TTT, Jerry is also involved as president of the American Red Cross Club, vice president of Public Health Beyond Borders, and a volunteer EMT at the College Park Volunteer Fire Department.

Esohe Owie Headshot

Esohe Owie (Associate Director) is a Public Health Science major and French Studies minor graduating in May 2025, and an associate director of Terrapin Think Tank. She is interested in conducting community-engaged public health research, evaluating the impact of current health policies on populations, and proposing community-based interventions. Outside of Terrapin Think Tank, she is the vice president of marketing and technology in the Sister to Sister Program and an honors ambassador for the Honors College.

The Terrapin Think Tank is currently working on three major projects.

  1. Community Health Workers - TTT is working with the Prince George's County Department of Health to create an implementation framework for staffing Community Health Workers and telehealth hubs in non-traditional settings. These settings include low-income housing complexes, the Department of Motor Vehicles offices, libraries, and community centers. Access the white paper presented to the Department of Health here.
  2. Physician Tax Credit - TTT seeks to address physician shortages affecting Prince George's County by proposing statewide legislation that would provide an income tax credit to physicians practicing or opening practices in state-designated Health Equity Resource Communities.
  3. Healthcare Bus Loop - Transportation is one of the greatest social determinants of health affecting people's ability to access healthcare. To address this challenge, TTT is advocating for the creation of a dedicated bus line that connects medical centers and clinics to under-resources communities around the county.

The Terrapin Think Tank is currently recruiting for our inaugural class of fellows! Fellows will work with our board on existing initiatives and have the opportunity to work on their own health policy proposals. Those interested in applying are welcome to submit an application at the link below.

Applications close on December 9, 2022 at 11:59pm EST.

Apply to be a Terrapin Think Tank Fellow

Ongoing Projects

In addition to supporting the Terrapin Think Tank, the Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement is supporting two key community-based projects across the state. Learn more about these projects below.

The overarching goal of the Crownsville Hospital Transformation Project is to provide tailored technical assistance and support to the Anne Arundel County Manager and local health department to create a space in which public health services and support are provided to individuals in the community using an integrated health model. Unlike the episodic nature of the modern US healthcare system, the proposed project will blend state-of-the art early intervention and chronic disease management into one space. This approach represents an evolution in our knowledge of the interconnectedness of physical and behavioral health. As such, it will serve as a national model for providing support to all individuals to prevent and address health issues across the lifespan, including parenting and child development, young adult health, adult functioning and supportive service, and finally senior care.

This project has been proposed and we are in communication with the Anne Arundel County Management about potential partnerships.

The Town of Berwyn Heights and the OPHP&CE are working together to listen and learn from the residents and community leaders (Council members and informal/formal community organizations) in the town with the goal of supporting the health and well-being of the town’s residents. This is a collective action collaboration that will build upon the strengths of each partner and will be grounded on leadership by the residents and community leaders. The work will be addressed through collaborative planning, implementation, and assessment and evaluation. This is envisioned as a partnership focused on community health and well-being with a strength-based approach.

The office is in communication with Berwyn Heights leadership and is designing next steps for the partnership.