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MPH Student Leader Creates Culture of Public Health Advocacy Through Actions Across Campus

Student: Rosie Mae Henson

March 17, 2016

From the time she arrived in Philadelphia two years ago, Rosie Mae Henson, MPH ’16, quickly became involved in activities in the Dornsife School of Public Health as well as the larger Drexel community.

Her dedication and commitment to advocacy and public health is apparent to her peers. “Rosie Mae is a huge presence in the Dornsife School of Public Health,” one classmate noted. She is a “motivated and ambitious individual” who is viewed as a great role model that “always makes time to talk to first year students."

Originally from Escondido, California, Henson is currently concentrating in Health Management and Policy in the Dornsife School of Public Health. Rosie Mae received her BS in Microbial Biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013.

In the first year of her MPH, Henson worked with Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of Community Health and Prevention on her practicum. Aiming to link student advocacy to public health advocacy, Henson and Dr. Carroll-Scott came up with Public Health in Action (PHA), a student-led advocacy group. She spent most of her practicum experience developing strategic plans for the advocacy group.

Another part of her practicum experience was spent organizing the 2015 Community Health Planning and Policy Development Day of Action at the Annual American Public Health Association annual meeting this past November in Chicago. The event brought local community-based organizations and APHA members together to address [a pressing local health need] and built capacity to improve community health and equity. In 2011, Carroll-Scott founded the Community Health Planning and Policy Development (CHPPD) Day of Action, which has been recognized as an APHA Best Practice.

In her second year, Henson is conducting her Community-Based Master's Project (CBMP) with the Department of Health and Human Services at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH). As a health policy intern, Henson is assisting with a range of concurrent projects in policy topical areas including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Women's Health, Family Planning, Million Hearts, and HIV/AIDS. The research component of her project includes policy analysis of provisions under the ACA that impact health system transformation, and the ways systems can leverage these provisions to improve population health. 

Outside of academic pursuits, Henson applies her advocacy and leadership skills as a Resident Assistant for Drexel undergraduate students. She works as a graduate assistant for the Center for Public Health Practice and is past president of the Health Management and Policy Club. She is also involved in the advocacy group she helped start, Public Health in Action, which recently held a town hall for the Tobacco-Free Campus College Initiative and a voter registration drive on campus.

For fun, Henson is taking classes at the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.