Student Advocates for Public Health launched to promote dialogue around COVID-19

Vanderbilt students wear face masks on campus to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Vanderbilt University)

Student Advocates for Public Health (SAPH), a new student group established through a partnership among the School of Nursing, Health Professions Advisory Office, Office of the Dean of Students and Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, will engage undergraduate students in education, training and dialogue to promote the safest possible campus for everyone at Vanderbilt.

The SAPH advisory council consists of six student leaders who will work in collaboration with SAPH faculty coordinators to design a curriculum to bring awareness to specific issues related to COVID-19. Council members also will facilitate discussions between students and university leadership to provide an opportunity for open dialogue about the campus response to the pandemic throughout the semester.

Student members of SAPH will operate as formal role models and hold regular meetings with their undergraduate peers throughout campus to discuss current challenges as well as successes in engaging in positive public health practices at the university.

“We are excited to begin meeting with students this week to arm them with the knowledge and leadership skills to engage their peers in a professional and productive way to promote safe behaviors on campus,” said Michelle Grundy, director of the Health Professions Advisory Office. “Our first meeting with the SAPH advisory council and student advocates took place on Sept. 8 and included a discussion with Dr. William Schaffner, an internationally recognized infectious disease specialist and public health expert at Vanderbilt. Dr. Schaffner graciously agreed to spend time with our student advocates and asked them to bring their ‘boldest’ questions. It was an informative and enlightening discussion for the entire group.”

Applications to serve as a Student Advocate for Public Health will continue to be reviewed on a rolling basis until all positions are filled. The application can be found on Anchorlink under the SAPH page, and any questions about the program may be submitted there.