In 2012, Saint Francis University launched a new program: Public Health. This past December, the program celebrated its first two graduates, William Myers and Austin Potts.
A recent addition to the School of Health Sciences at Saint Francis University, Public Health develops professionals to promote health and the prevention of disease through research, community-based interventions and public policy. Put simply, public health professionals strive to keep people healthy by battling against deadly, contagious diseases and working to reduce incidences of preventable diseases or disasters.
As the first graduates of this program, William and Austin were excited to begin their careers in the field, and they were honored to be the first graduates.
William, a 41-year-old from (Cresson) Pennsylvania, began his journey in public health with several years of experience defining his passion: disaster management. As a volunteer firefighter, he saw firsthand the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) were understaffed. When on the scene, William felt helpless, as he could only do so much. As a result, he participated in an advanced course, gaining his EMT certification. Still, he felt limited in what he could do to help. He joined the military and served overseas as a medic in the field. Through all of his experiences, he knew he wanted to help people before they needed help, translating to preventative health. With his degree in public health, William will be able to achieve this dream. Completing two field experiences while seeking his degree, he observed at a 9-1-1 call center and the Johnstown Free Clinic, where he played a crucial role in establishing another free clinic in a neighboring county. With a wife, three small children and his degree in hand, William plans to work in disaster management, with the possibility of joining the Air Force and its disaster/emergency management team.
Austin, a 22-year-old from West Virginia, knew he wanted to be in the health field when he began his educational journey. His interest in the preventative side of the health field made public health the perfect degree choice for him. With a passion for the environment and health, he completed two field experiences, both in environmental health, during his coursework. Both field experiences were in state facilities, one in Maryland and the other in West Virginia. While at these facilities, he was able to test water samples in nearly 66 different streams; witness a rabid animal situation and how it was handled; teach a group of individuals about environmental health, such as tics and tic-bite prevention; among many other hands-on experiences. Austin plans to work in environmental health and sit for an exam to become a certified health education specialist.