Public Health Program Student Ambassadors
The student ambassador program is a volunteer opportunity for undergraduate and graduate public health students to be representatives of our Public Health Program. The student ambassadors serve as a resource for current and incoming public health students, and are happy to talk with prospective students about their experiences in the program. You can read more about them and find their email addresses by clicking on their names in orange below.
2023 - 2024 Undergraduate (BSPH) Student Ambassadors
Andre Asarian is a 4th-year pre-medical student with interests in Emergency/Trauma/Disaster Medicine and Public Health. At VT, he is Public Health and Political Science dual degree student within the Honors College. In addition, Andre is a cadet in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, specifically within the Regimental Band - The Highty-Tightys. Within the Corps, he is in the Citizen Leader track as his ROTC, which prepares civilian students to be successful leaders in the world outside of the military without a required military commitment. Besides holding numerous leadership positions throughout his time in the VTCC, he is also the undergraduate student senator for the VMCVM to the VT Student Senate. Off campus, Andre spends time as a volunteer on Blacksburg Rescue while attending VT, and is looking to join public health research groups in preparation for medical school. Lastly, Andre is a nationally registered paramedic with the future goal of becoming a physician involved in Trauma and Critical Care
Email Andre: email@example.com
Hi! My name is Betaneya Daniel and I am from Northern Virginia. I’m majoring in Public Health with a minor in Health Communication and expecting to graduate in Spring 2025. After completing my BSPH, I intend to receive an MPH.
When I was deciding on a major, I always knew studying human health was my greatest interest. However, I wasn’t inclined to major in Biology because it didn’t align with what I would be excited to learn like community health, epidemiology, health promotion, and most importantly advocacy for health equity. I quickly realized Public Health at Virginia Tech covered all these topics and more! The vastness of the field provides for learning that doesn’t need to be limited to a single interest. The more courses I took, the more excited I became about my major because it gives me the opportunity to learn about every aspect of human health in all its complexities.
As a student ambassador, I get the chance to contribute to the success of the BSPH program that has positively served my experience here at Virginia Tech. I love to share and discuss public health with current and prospective students about the plentiful facets of the field or about the great program we have here! I’d love to hear from you, please feel free to contact me!
Email Betaneya: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! My name is Louhan Dembele, and I am local to Blacksburg. I am so happy to be one of the BSPH Student Ambassadors. I’m double majoring in public health and international studies, with a minor in French language and culture for the practice of science. Outside of studying, I absolutely love to read (mysteries, thrillers, and contemporary fiction), listen to podcasts, journal, travel (especially to visit my family), spend time with my loved ones, and be outdoors when I can.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go into the medical field. At some point, I came to the realization that while I want to do research and help others, I would much rather work on the broader population health level, rather than in a clinical setting with patients. Once the pandemic hit, I started to hear a lot about public health in the news. After a bit of research into this field, I knew that this is what I wanted to go into. Some of my interests within public health include global health, epidemiology, maternal and child health, and nutrition. My interests in global health stem from my international background: I was born and raised in the United States, but I am from the beautiful countries of Tanzania (East Africa) and Burkina Faso (West Africa). I hope that my future line of work will allow me to give back to my own communities.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out, even if you just want to talk about how your day is going! I am definitely a people person, so I look forward to getting to know other students in public health. The BSPH Program at VT is awesome, with such amazing classes, faculty, staff, research, and other opportunities. If I can be of any assistance to you, let me know!
Email Louhan: email@example.com
Hello Everyone:) My name Is Kayla Ford, and I'm from Fairfax, Virginia! I am a Public Health Major with a minor in Health Communications, and I plan on graduating Spring of 2025. Upon graduation, I plan to continue my studies within the realm of Public Health and Administration, while pursuing a position in Health Consulting and Administration.
I came to Virginia Tech initially as a Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise major, but soon after realized it felt too narrow of a path for myself. I decided to switch into Public Health after my first semester because not only did it align the closest with my interests, it also opened up doors to plenty of different career paths from administration to policy, all while keeping the same idea of helping others. I overall love my major, and the variety of classes and professors, while tapping into other courses such as HNFE and Health Sciences. This major has overall been very rewarding, and switching majors provided me the opportunity to enjoy, grow, and form my future goals.
The major, advisors, and resources surrounding the program help create a personable experience that truly makes one feel comfortable and feel like they can handle the working world. This community has helped me immerse myself and opened doors to connections, different ways of learning, and building long term relationships. As a student ambassador, I hope to continue the experience I received and pass it to others. I can't wait to provide motivation, advice, and opportunities to those who are interested. I hope to be a wonderful resource to any prospective,incoming, and current students on or around the Virginia Tech campus. Feel free to reach out and chat!
Email Kayla: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello! My name is Alishba Malik, and I am from Falls Church, Virginia. I am currently a Senior majoring in Public Health and minoring in Chemistry here at Tech! Upon graduating in May 2024, I plan on continuing my Public Health career by hopefully starting an MPH alongside pursuing medical school.
I was first introduced to Public Health and Human Development in my highschool economics class. Here, I learned about the important relationship between the level of Human Development and the quality of life one has within a certain country. Fascinated by the strong role of Public Health in human society, I wanted to learn more about how Public Health is integrated into medicine for the overall individual and population quality of health. Throughout the last three years being a student here at Virginia Tech, I have seen the striking difference of how both the implementation and the lack of Public Health practices can either diversify or limit the access to healthcare and wellness in a community. I have not only first-hand learned the importance of advocating and educating the importance of preventative healthcare, I have also seen how lucrative Public Health can be if one makes an effort to participate in outreach in the community.
Virginia Tech is an amazing place to be for a Public Health student as it fosters creativity, encourages leadership and development, and promotes teamwork within the students, faculty, and the Blacksburg community. As a Public Health ambassador, I would love to be a bridge between the Virginia Tech Staff and the current Public Health students to provide personalized and meaningful opportunities, and to create the change that we all strive to achieve in the process of trying to explore the vast field of Public Health. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about Public Health, being Pre-Med as a Public Health student, or just want to talk in general!
Email Alishba: email@example.com
Hello! My name is Kelly Ribeiro and I’m from Vienna, Virginia. I will graduate in May 2024 with a degree in Public Health and two minors: Health Communication and Integrative Health & Wellness. I will continue my education at Virginia Tech in the Accelerated MPH Program with a concentration in Infectious Disease.
I chose the BSPH program at Virginia Tech because of its One Health emphasis. I enjoy learning about all the many different facets of public health, especially public health policy, health equity in rural & underserved populations, and infectious diseases. I also enjoy how the BSPH courses introduce you to a range of disciplines to support a transdisciplinary approach to community health. The program also offered hands-on experiences in the field that gave me the opportunity to serve our campus and Blacksburg communities and live Virginia Tech’s motto, “Ut Prosim.” The BSPH faculty have given me a supportive and encouraging environment as I expand and learn more about my interests in Public Health.
I’m excited to help potential, incoming, and current BSPH students find experiences within Public Health that reinforce their passions and help them reach their goals. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns at all!
Email Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello everyone! My name is Minahil Sheikh, and I’m from Ashburn, Virginia. I’m majoring in Public Health and on the Pre-Dental track. Upon graduating in Spring 2026, I plan to attend dental school!
Throughout middle and high school, I always wanted to be on the Pre-Med track, but in my senior year of high school, I realized that my interests aligned more with dentistry after I shadowed a dentist for the first time. When I visited Virginia Tech for the first time, it immediately felt like home. I remember exploring different majors I could apply for, and I came across Public Health, which intrigued me. I chose Public Health because I’ve always wanted to leave a positive impact on the world by making a difference in people’s lives. Studying Public Health allows me to do this by promoting the health and well-being of communities and populations.
As a student ambassador, I can’t wait to represent the Public Health Program and engage with students, faculty, and alumni. I want to help incoming students because I know transitioning to college could be stressful and offer them any guidance. I would also like to encourage others interested in public health to join the program! If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out!
Email Minahil: Minahil@vt.edu
Hi! My name is Faith Smith and I am from Amherst, Virginia. I am entering my last year at Virginia Tech and am planning to graduate with my Bachelor’s in Public Health in the spring of 2024. After graduation I want to obtain my master’s in either Health Administration or Business Administration in hopes of going into a career of Health administration or Program Management involving public health after graduating.
I came to Virginia Tech as a transfer student after originally going to North Carolina State University for Biomedical Engineering and learned that engineering was not for me, but I wanted to stay in the health sciences realm. I decided to transfer to Virginia Tech because of the family-like atmosphere among students/staff, academic opportunities, and the supportive community. After transferring to VT, I took Introduction to Public Health my first semester and fell in love with the general concepts of one health, population health, and administration that this class taught me. This class sparked my interest in the many diverse topics concerning Public Health making me excited to use the knowledge/skills I have learned in a future career. My favorite classes I have taken so far are epidemiology, policy and administration, and medical dilemmas where I was able to grow further in my studies and create great connections with my professors. Transferring to Virginia Tech’s major of Public Health has been such an enriching and rewarding experience because I have been able to learn engaging/useful curriculum for my future, create personal and professional relationships, and learn so much about myself along the way. Virginia Tech has provided me with so many resources to grow professionally, academically, and personally and I would not be where I am at today without them.
As a student ambassador I am hoping to provide prospective/current students with any information they may need or want to make their journey at VT easier or more comfortable. I love getting to talk to people about things I am passionate about and Public Health is one of them, so I cannot wait to share any information I have. I am open to talk about classes, transferring/changing majors, college challenges, Public Health at VT, and anything else so feel free to reach out! Have a great year!
Email Faith: email@example.com
Hi! My name is Caroline Wood and I am from Richmond, Virginia. I am a Junior here at Virginia Tech and will be graduating in May 2025 and have aspirations of obtaining my Master of Public Health at Virginia Tech as well. I am passionate about being a Hokie along with fulfilling my Public Health degree. I came into college initially studying a different major, but I soon realized it wasn't the right fit for me. I am extremely grateful for all of the resources that helped guide me in my quest to switch my major to Public Health. When I became aware of the Public Health major, I instantly fell in love with it based on the profound sense of community between the advisors, professors, and classmates. I am knowledgeable about what this major offers at Virginia Tech as well as the countless opportunities it presents outside of the university. As a student ambassador, I strive to be a resource for incoming students, and also support those within and outside of the major by answering any questions and concerns. I take great pride in assisting others, especially when it comes to helping a fellow Hokie choose the path that is right for them :) I'm really looking forward to connecting with you, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to say hello! Go Hokies!
Email Caroline: firstname.lastname@example.org
2023 - 2024 Graduate (MPH) Student Ambassadors
My name is Dana Carhart; I am a first-generation college student from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I obtained my bachelor's degree in communication at Virginia Tech and decided to continue my education by pursuing my Master of Public health. The career field I see myself in, one day, would be policy development or implementation with a high focus on ethical human subject research.
Email Dana: email@example.com
My name is Andrea Connor and I am from Midlothian, Virginia. I am a DVM/MPH student, with the Infectious Disease concentration for my MPH and the Public/Corporate track for my DVM. I graduated with my B.S. in Animal and Poultry Sciences from Virginia Tech in May of 2022, and am so proud to eventually become an 8 year Hokie!
During my undergraduate education, I was involved in numerous research projects, one of which used the calf model to study novel drugs to treat Cryptosporidiosis. I was interested in pursuing this research position as it was a great way to combine my interests in animal and human health, along with public health and drug discovery. Prior to 2020, I was convinced that I would pursue my DVM and become a small animal practitioner. However, I learned about the MPH program and how well it fit with my interests in infectious diseases and the utilization of the One Health approach. Thus, I set a new path towards a DVM/MPH, which started last summer when I completed my first set of MPH courses. I will complete the rest, along with my Practicum and Integrative Learning Experience, and anticipate graduating with both of my degrees in the spring of 2026.
My goal is to one day work for the government in disease outbreak response, emergency preparedness, and supporting the One Health approach. I hope to schedule some of my DVM rotations within different government sectors and utilize my knowledge from the MPH program to assist government employees with day to day operations. I am passionate about mentorship and paying it forward, and would not be here without those who came before me. I have had multiple opportunities to mentor prospective and incoming students in the past, and continue to do so within the DVM program as an ambassador. I am so excited to continue helping out fellow students as an ambassador for the MPH program in order to provide insight to those who may be interested in the dual degree program. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or general inquiries!
Email Andrea: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greetings, everyone! I am Jon Dance, a native of Midlothian, Virginia, and I have called the Blacksburg/Christiansburg area my home since 1994. My journey began at Virginia Tech, where I initially pursued a college education. However, I soon realized that the traditional academic path wasn't the right fit for me at that time. From 1995 to 2007, I embarked on a fulfilling career in the Hospitality and Food Service industry, immersing myself in every aspect of the restaurant world. Over the years, I held positions ranging from dishwasher to General Manager, and I had the opportunity to contribute to the opening and management of multiple restaurants.
In the latter half of my career, spanning from 2007 to 2020, I transitioned into the role of a food broker and salesperson. This allowed me to work closely with various food service entities, including K-12 schools, restaurants, and commercial accounts such as Virginia Tech. However, my personal journey of recovery from substance use and mental health disorders steered my passion and purpose toward helping others who face similar struggles.
In January 2021, I returned to Virginia Tech with a renewed focus on counseling, enrolling in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the Human Development Department. During my studies, I discovered the field of Public Health in 2022, and its emphasis on community education, support, and healing resonated deeply with me. Consequently, in May 2023, I proudly obtained my Bachelor's Degree in Human Development, with minors in Adaptive and Brain Behavior and Public Health.
Currently, I am enrolled in the Accelerated Master of Public Health (MPH) program, specializing in Community Health Promotion and Equity. My aspiration is to continue collaborating with Virginia Tech, the New River Valley community, and neighboring areas, focusing on substance use, mental wellness, and dismantling the stigma and shame associated with these issues. Additionally, I aim to prioritize overall well-being by educating and healing communities as a whole, which, in turn, will provide support to families and individuals in need.
In addition to my academic pursuits, I am actively engaged as your student ambassador. I am also registered with the Board of Counseling in Virginia as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, a certified trainer for Peer Recovery Specialists by VA DBHDS, a REVIVE Trainer for the Commonwealth of Virginia Opioid Response program, a Certified Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP), and a Certified Substance Use Specialist. Through my involvement with the VT Recovery Community, I continue to support students facing various challenges, assisting them in discovering their passions and finding happiness while prioritizing their overall wellness.
My goal is to raise awareness of our exceptional Public Health Program and foster its continual growth year after year. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or require assistance or support in any capacity.
Email Jon: email@example.com
My name is Grace DiGirolamo, and I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I graduated from Virginia Tech this past May with a B.S. in Public Health. I knew I wanted to pursue my MPH at Virginia Tech and started the accelerated MPH program my Senior year with a concentration in Infectious Disease.
When I started college I was a Neuroscience major and was set on going to medical school. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the spring semester of my Freshman year I was introduced to the world of public health. As soon as I took my first public health course I knew public health was a great fit for me. I realized that I was interested in affecting health outcomes on a population-based level, not just for a single patient. I am particularly interested in the spread of infectious diseases and how utilizing a One Health approach can address many of the complex factors involved in transmission.
I am not set on what I want to do once I complete my MPH. I am interested in getting a PhD related to Public Health, going to medical school, or starting a career. I wanted to be an ambassador because I want to help continue to grow the public health program and make meaningful connections with students and faculty. Public health is such a broad field, which means there are countless opportunities, but it can also be difficult to identify what areas you are interested in. As someone who is unsure of my exact end goal, I know firsthand how much valuable insight and reassurance I have gotten from the faculty here. I am so glad that I chose to pursue my MPH here and have had so many valuable experiences and opportunities. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me!
Email Grace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! My name is Samantha Edwards, and I am from Martinsville, VA. I’m an MPH student in the Infectious Disease and Community Health Promotion and Equity concentrations. I received a B.S. from VT in 2022 in Biological Sciences, focusing on biomedicine. I currently assist with research at the VT Center for Public Health Practice and Research on topics like the stigma around substance use disorder, alternative transportation, vaccine hesitancy, and underrepresented populations in clinical research.
During the final semester of my undergraduate degree, I was torn between a career in medicine and public health. I felt so passionate about both fields, but it wasn’t until a guest lecturer for one of my courses came in and told us about an amazing career in infectious disease investigations and community outreach. I sat back in awe of a career encompassing many of my interests. That’s when the lecturer credited their success to the VT MPH Program. I was so inspired by the lecturer that I decided to apply to the program, and I’m so glad that I did because I get to combine my passion for biomedicine and community health each time I step into the classroom.
I became a student ambassador to help give students extra inspiration to pursue a career in public health and provide them with the support to be the best they can be while in the program. If you ever have any questions about the program or research opportunities, please feel free to reach out!!
Email Samantha: email@example.com
My name is Natalie Scheuer and I am from Philadelphia, but I am practically now a Blacksburg resident since I’ve been here for the past 5 years. I went to undergrad here at Virginia Tech and graduated in May of 2022 with a B.S. in Animal and poultry Sciences and a minor in Biological sciences. When I first came to college, I was set on becoming a veterinarian. As I took more classes and gained more experience, I realized that I was way more interested in the research side of animal science.
My main interest in public health is connected to the overall interactions between humans, animals, and the environment. Specifically, I am really interested in the study of infectious diseases and how the dynamics of these relationships can affect transmission. I’ve been lucky enough to get research experience in a lab at Virginia Tech studying a parasite in dairy calves, as well as an opportunity to work in Virginia’s public health laboratory. Both of these experiences have really sparked my interest in public health and solidified in my mind that this is the field I want to go into. Eventually, I would like to get my PhD in Translational Medicine so that I can one day conduct my own research.
I really wanted to become an ambassador because I have always loved meeting new people and wanted the opportunity to help new students feel more comfortable. Coming from an undergraduate degree where 90% of the students ended up going to vet school, I had to find my own path and did not really have anyone to talk with about potential careers. I know it can be super scary to start a degree program where you aren’t exactly sure where you want to end up afterwards, but I am here to help anyone. Everyone in the MPH program here is amazing and willing to help you with anything, including all the ambassadors. Feel free to email me or just stop me in person if you want to talk!!
Email Natalie: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Ambassador Alumni
- Ayman Belafia
- Chris Boyd
- Grace DiGirolamo
- Vineela Eppe
- Hailey Hollerbach
- Louisa Obenwa
- Brooke Sheridan
- Sarah Dixon, Accelerated MPH - Infectious Disease
- Carley Elliott, MPH - Infectious Disease
- Sam Rodgers, MPH - Infectious Disease and Public Health Education
- Julia Utting, DVM/MPH - Infectious Disease
- Domenique Villani, MPH - Infectious Disease and Public Health Education
- Hannah Cho
- Natalie Martin
- Amanda Olney
- Maya Rakotoarisoa
- Madi Bautista, MPH - Infectious Disease
- Kirsten Kohl, MPH - Infectious Disease and Public Health Education
- Holley Moser, Accelerated MPH - Public Health Education
- Alexis Nuzzo, MPH - Infectious Disease
- Julia Utting, DVM/MPH - Infectious Disease
- Fernanda Gutierrez Matos, MPH - Infectious Disease & Public Health Education
- Teace Markwalter, MPH - Public Health Education
- Sam Miller, MPH - Public Health Education
- Hannah Reed, MPH - Infectious Disease
- Lauren Smith, Accelerated MPH - Infectious Disease
- Harper Lovegrove, MPH - Public Health Education
- Jordan Mills, MPH - Public Health Education
- Malik Outram, MPH - Infectious Disease
- Emilie Schweikert, MPH - Infectious Disease and Public Health Education
- Samantha Seay, MPH - Public Health Education
- Steven Black, MPH - Public Health Education
- Shelby Borowski, Simultaneous (PhD) MPH - Public Health Education
- Taylor Holsinger, MPH - Infectious Disease & Public Health Education
- Travis Oishi, MPH - Infectious Disease
- Mariah Malachi, MPH - Public Health Education
- Mari Shelton, MPH - Infectious Disease & Public Health Education
- Kristina Jiles, Simultaneous (PhD) MPH - Public Health Education
- Andrew Riddle, MPH - Public Health Education
- Zana Shabani, MPH - Public Health Education