The Department of Nutrition and Health Science, now features a Public Health undergraduate major, which was an overhaul of the Health Education and Promotion program. This was a needed change to fall more in line with other institutions and increase the visibility of our degree offerings within a growing field. We wanted to learn more about the changes from those on the front line, teaching current and future public health majors. Here is a Q & A with Nutrition and Health Science faculty members.
Dr. Jerome Kotecki, is starting his 29th year as a Professor of Public Health. His current research focuses on Lifestyle Medicine in Emerging Adults.
Dr. Jean Marie Place, is in her 10th year as an Associate Professor of Health Science. She is a maternal and child health researcher and co-directs the Ball State Center for Substance Use Research and Community Initiatives.
Q: How excited are you to work with Public Health Majors?
Kotecki: Very eager and enthusiastic to work with our majors. Many of our new majors are already passionate about building bridges to a healthier society through science-based knowledge and community service that reduces health disparities and social injustices. They are also grounded in empathy. They find their academic fit with our Public Health bachelor’s degree that focuses on prevention, impact, equity, the root causes of health disparities, and social justice for people and communities.
Place: I am always so excited to meet our new majors! They are so bright and energized. They care about our public’s health, and I love engaging with them to discuss and strategize and problem solve as we discuss what is happening in our world. It’s great to work with our students!
Q: What types of projects will the students be working on in your classes?
Kotecki: In my disease prevention and management class, my students will be working on immersive learning health screening ventures focused on emerging adults with the Office of Health Promotion and Advocacy. This will also include constructing instructive interventions.
Place: In our program planning class, the students will be in an immersive learning course. Together, we will be working to assess substance use problems on and off campus among Ball State students and create interventions that help with prevention.
Q: What does the name change mean for the program and for the current & future majors?
Kotecki: The name change to Public Health coincides much better with our notable accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) as a stand-alone baccalaureate program. Furthermore, our majors are happier with the term Public Health as it increases their employability. Employers are more acquainted and conversant with the term public health. A bachelor’s degree in public health opens more doors to students for a rewarding career in this vitally important and rapidly expanding profession.
Place: I think the name change to public health is important because it is a more recognizable term. The public is aware of the importance of public health, especially since COVID. As we use and embrace public health as our identity, we hope students will recognize what our major represents. We also know public health is marketable and can help students locate job opportunities.
Q: Anything else you want to share?
Kotecki: Our majors are very passionate about public health. I am deeply grateful to my students because they continue to teach me daily. The way in which they embrace learning – by being intellectually curious and inquisitive – provides a feedback loop that helps keep me focused on my own research and on investigating the latest scientific findings in health research to expand my perspicacity as a professor.
Place: We’re excited to continuing growing and looking for opportunities to serve our community.