On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Research!America and leading public health organizations take time to recognize public health professionals who work tirelessly every day to protect us from disease, injury, and other health threats. Read more about Public Health Thank You Day.

November 17, 2016

With more than 50,000 people on campus, our University of Maryland community is a thriving population of students, faculty, staff and guests that rely each day on many individuals and organizations who work to promote public health, safety and wellness. Yet, we may not recognize these campus public health professionals who work tirelessly to protect us because, as CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., MPH says, “It’s easy to miss public health successes – you don’t see the heart attacks that don’t happen, the years added to the lives of those who quit smoking, or the flu death avoided because of vaccines. To all who have dedicated their careers to help us live our lives to the fullest, thank you!”

Public Health Thank You Day, a national campaign celebrated each year on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, provides an opportunity to recognize public health professionals of all sorts and across the globe--in communities, clinics, research laboratories, health departments and many other settings--who dedicate their lives to helping all the world’s people achieve the highest attainable standard of health. 

We have taken the opportunity to thank and recognize some of our unsung campus public health heroes, including a nurse, our Chief Diversity Officer, our Title IX officer, a fitness director, and a police officer. There are many more not profiled here who deserve our appreciation and thanks, but this group provides a good showcase of the diverse components and activities involved with promoting public health on this thriving campus.

Tina Thorburn, RN
Immunization, Allergy and Travel Nursing Supervisor, University Health Center

Tina Thorburn (pictured in black) has been a nurse at the University of Maryland Health Center (UHC) for 20 years and is quick to share that she loves what she does. As the lead nurse for the immunizations program, she makes sure that all UMD students are up to date on all of their shots and also leads annual flu clinics around campus, including one at the Smith School of Business, dining services, residential facilities, and the School of Public Health.

“Last year, with Tina’s lead, the University Health Center administered over 7,000 immunizations,” said Dr. David McBride, UHC director. Routine immunizations, including vaccines to protect against influenza, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), meningitis, Tetanus/Diphtheria, and tuberculosis, are the most effective tools for preventing infectious disease.

“I give great shots, and I want everyone to have a good experience with it,” Tina says proudly.  “If you have a bad experience, you are not going to run in to get your flu vaccine.”

Thorburn doesn’t spend all her time sticking needles in people, however.

“Education is one of my main roles. I teach students how to take care of themselves,” she says. “There’s a lot they can do on their own, and it can help them to avoid having to take antibiotics, which we know have been overprescribed.”

Thorburn is often the nurse on duty at football games, graduation ceremonies, and during walk-in clinic hours. Her commitment to students and to the campus community is clear to all who interact with her. “She is incredibly kind to patients and is a very solid and committed nurse,” says Dr. McBride.

Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D., '78
Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, University of Maryland

Dr. Kumea Shorter-Gooden is the first Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President at the University of Maryland, College Park. In this role, she provides leadership throughout the university to create and sustain an equitable and inclusive campus. She does this by working with others to recruit and retain a diverse student body, faculty and staff; creating a campus climate that supports success for all groups; encouraging education, research, and scholarship that engages different perspectives and addresses underrepresented and marginalized groups; and creating a connection to the diverse broader community that surrounds us.

A clinical community psychologist by training (and a UMD alumna), Dr. Shorter-Gooden considers her role as Chief Diversity Officer as critical to public health:

“I think that the issues of diversity, inclusion and climate are central to the health of the campus, and to the constituents – students, staff and faculty. When people experience micro-aggressions [unintentional or subtle discrimination] or macro-aggressions [overt discrimination], it impacts their well being – physical, psychological and/or spiritual,” she says. “How do we create opportunities for all students, staff and faculty to work and learn here and do it in a way where they are not sacrificing parts of themselves to survive it? The data show us, for example, that the cumulative experience of stress from racial and gender bias can have negative health consequences.”

Dr. Shorter Gooden has helped the University of Maryland campus to define diversity broadly. “It’s not just race/ethnicity and gender, but gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, socio-economic status, immigration status, and more,”she says.  She has also created many signature programs, like the annual “Rise Above Isms” week, which provide opportunities for education and dialogue that allow participants to examine their own biases and prejudices. A new inclusive faculty hiring initiative that she and the University’s ADVANCE Program are piloting includes training for faculty search committees on implicit bias and how it impacts the hiring of underrepresented minorities and women.

Like schools of public health, which teach about systemic solutions and infrastructure to support the well-being of populations, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion also thinks systemically. “We do address how individuals contribute to the campus culture and climate, but we also are looking at the university as an institution and how its ways of being--its history and its policies and practices--may help or may unintentionally marginalize people at times.”

While Dr. Shorter-Gooden points out the campus is not as diverse as it ought to be, particularly in the composition of the faculty and graduate student body, she does celebrate UMD’s notable successes.

“We have a number of things to be proud of,” she says. “We have been named a top LGBT-friendly campus for the past five years. In 2015, we received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. We have a high percentage of underrepresented ethnic minority undergraduates, higher than most of our peers.”

The opportunities to educate and to build a climate that is thriving and welcoming to all keep Dr. Shorter Gooden motivated.

“As a public flagship, a core part of our mission is responding to the needs of the state, a state that will soon be majority minority, and which includes people of many different identities. We have the opportunity to provide leadership throughout the state and nationally in creating healthy, equitable, diverse and inclusive communities.”

Catherine Carroll, UMD Title IX OfficerCatherine A. Carroll, J.D.
Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct Director and Title IX Officer, University of Maryland

Catherine Carroll arrived at the University of Maryland two and a half years ago to lead the university’s newly formed Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM). National statistics show that one in four undergraduate college-aged women experience rape or sexual assault. Carroll’s office is responsible for implementing the university’s compliance with Title IX, a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education, which includes establishing procedures for handling complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual violence.

Carroll, who brings more than 20 years of legal experience in the field of domestic and sexual violence, leads a team of six who work on university civil rights compliance issues. That means many things, including ensuring there are adequate processes in place for receiving and resolving complaints; working with the department of public safety on criminal law enforcement of sexual offenses; and making sure that people on campus are aware of what our sexual harassment policies are, and what the consequences are for violating those policies.

The student activism around issues of sexual assault and gender discrimination both within and outside the classroom “has been really positive and profound, and for the most part the administration really understands that it’s something we have to do,” Carroll said.

There are many intersections with Carroll’s work and public health, she said, when you consider prevention and education. “Compliance is really just the floor. The goal—what I aspire to—is to do things from a position of best practices and based on research,” much of which is being conducted here on our own campus and in our School of Public Health.

She describes her efforts as a “great marriage in terms of the legal expertise that I have, with the public health people on our campus.” Areas of overlap between her office and public health include issues of how civil rights issues play out in our communities, whether and how to best target different audiences on campus with effective messages, and how to navigate challenges of discrimination in the classroom.

Carroll said that University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace Loh has been very supportive of making sure that her newly created online diversity training is going out to all faculty and staff, and also pointed to the high-level and high-profile focus this year on sexual assault prevention on campus. “That’s another example of collaboration, coming together to focus on these issues to be proactive,” she said. “The position we’re in is to cultivate relationships with stakeholders all over the campus.”

Photo credit: The Diamondback

Brianne RowhBrianne Rowh, B.S., '05

Assistant Director of Fitness, University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell) 

Brianne Rowh has been managing fitness programs and the fitness equipment unit for the University of Maryland since 2005, when she completed her Bachelor of Science in kinesiology. In her role as RecWell's assistant director, Rowh oversees supervisors and is in charge of managing equipment purchases for recreational spaces. Rowh also directly manages a staff of 25 fitness trainers that lead classes, as well as provide one-on-one personal training sessions. The RecWell Center also collaborates with the School of Public Health’s Department of Kinesiology, collectively managing body composition test appointments.

“My primary role is to get people moving more whether that’s in our building or outside of our building. We want people to be active throughout their day,”Rowh said.

In an effort to educate the UMD community about the benefits of physical activity, Rowh seeks to promote an inclusive fitness environment on campus, recognizing that not everyone is fond of exercising in traditional gym settings. The RecWell Center team is constantly trying to identify new spaces available for workout and keeping up with the latest fitness trends featured in reports from the American College of Sports Medicine, Rowh said.

Rowh also recognizes that stress is a factor that pulls fitness and wellness to the bottom of students’ priority lists. Part of her job at RecWell is to demonstrate that self-care is intrinsic to academic success.

"Brianne ("Bre") Rowh is a true fitness for health role-model. She creates fun and inclusive programs for the UMD student, staff, faculty, and the broader Maryland community. Her positive approach to developing her students staff creates an environment where those students want to learn and grow as professionals, and many of the skills carry over to professions within and beyond the field of fitness, health, and recreation," said Jo Zimmerman, lecturer and physical activity program director in the Department of Kinesiology.

Sergeant Rosanne Hoaas

University of Maryland Police Department Public Information Officer 

University of Maryland Police Department Sergeant Rosanne Hoaas is the department’s Public Information Officer. In this role, she sends out press releases and maintains social media messaging, and she is responsible for those urgent updates about incidents in progress that we all get via the department’s instant messaging system. She also is the public face of the department, offering informational sessions to campus groups, to prospective students and their parents, and to community stakeholders. “It’s not just about getting information to the general public, but also working in the community and getting to know the people that we serve,” she said.

Sgt. Hoaas lights up when she talks about the presentations she gives to students. “I really love them. I tell them, this is your time to ask whatever question is burning in your brain." She urges them to ask anything of her right then, rather than when they are involved in a risky situation or may have made a poor decision.

The diverse University of Maryland campus includes people coming from all different walks of life and different practices, Hoaas said, and they are all merging together into a campus environment and an urban environment. For some people this could be a culture shock. Hoaas says she works to take that all into account when presenting information to people.

“The thing about public safety is that the basics of what you’re taught as a child don’t change as an adult,” Sgt. Hoaas says. “Look after one another, don’t leave your stuff unattended—we’re reinforcing the same rules” that students have already been taught. But students, especially new ones, are often on information overload, and need reminders, she said.

Sgt. Hoaas, originally from Oklahoma, had an early personal calling to do service-oriented work. “It’s something I have a passion for, and I just want to be there for people. There’s so much more to policing than writing traffic citations or arresting people. You can make an impact on people’s lives, steer them back on the path.”

Before she became the department’s PIO, Sgt. Hoaas went through the police academy and worked for five years on the road as an officer, becoming a certified motorcycle officer. “I got to ride around campus on a motorcycle, and there’s something about being on the bike that people love, it breaks down the barriers. It really beings me joy when I can do that.”

“It’s a team effort to make an impact in out community, to look out for one another,” Sgt. Hoaas says. “We’re here for you no matter what the incident may be. We’re always going to be here for you.”