Woodke nominated to compete for Truman Scholarship

Woodke2Rebeccah Woodke, a junior Honors student and Centralis Scholar from Flushing with a major in biomedical science, has been named the 2013 CMU Truman Scholarship nominee.

Created by Congress in 1975, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation’s purpose is to recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in public service and provide them with financial support, leadership training and a network of like-minded individuals committed to the greater good.

Each applicant must be nominated by his or her university.   In their applications, candidates completed a series of essays, including a proposed solution to a major public policy issue.  The foundation reviews over 600 applicants each year and awards between 60 and 65 scholarships.

Woodke plans to pursue a career in public health, specifically in the areas of health behavior and health education.  She plans to earn her Masters of Public Health and then her PhD, with the hopes of attaining a university faculty position where she will be able to prepare future public health workers, conduct research, and advocate for policies that will help erase current racial and ethnic health disparities.

In her policy proposal, Woodke addressed these disparities by suggesting greater fiscal support for a program whose focus is to implement evidence-based public health improvement initiatives on the community level.  She proposed using the increased funding to give more communities access to the program, promoting greater equity in public health.

Woodke is a student leader for the Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.  She has spent time abroad doing service work, in Oaxaca, Mexico, and in Belize which she says helped to “reaffirmed how much I want to be involved in public health and in improving the health of communities.”  This passion for health equity led to volunteer service at the McLaren Free Health Clinic in Mt. Pleasant.  Additionally, she has been a participant and site leader for the Alternative Breaks program.

Woodke is currently working in Dr. Elizabeth Alm’s laboratory on an EPA funded study evaluating the effectiveness of a public health intervention which used border collies on beaches to deter gulls, which may carry pathogens potentially harmful to humans.

Although Woodke acknowledges that it might be a while until she makes “significant contributions to public health,” she confidently reports that, “all my service and background education is preparing me to make the change I hope for the world:  to ultimately improve the health of communities and realize health equity for all.”