Ashley Brooks-Russell, MPH 2004

 "The reason why I chose the Master of Public Health program is because I wanted a degree that was action oriented and focused on change and so it seemed to be an opportunity to take some of the skills I learned in undergrad and apply them to solving in solving real world problems and really making a meaningful difference rather quickly."

Learn more about Ashley’s career through these questions below:

Academic journey: I got my BA in Anthropology (medical anthropology) from Case, and then my MPH. I had a global health concentration. (Then I got my PhD at UNC Chapel Hill.)

What is your job title and where do you work: My current title is Associate Professor. I’m in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. I am also the Director of the Injury and Violence Prevention Center at CU Anschutz

Could you describe your career trajectory from your post-graduation years until now? Although my focus in school was in global health, immediately upon graduating I knew I wasn’t ready or interested in trying to live and work outside the U.S. Instead, I found a job at Case working with Dr. Scott Frank in tobacco prevention and cessation. In the few years working at Case I was involved with a number of tobacco prevention and cessation programs as well as policy and advocacy efforts, which sparked my interest in going back to school. I studied health behavior at UNC Chapel Hill, and developed a focus on adolescent health and substance use prevention. I was a postdoctoral fellow at NIH (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) where I continued to work on adolescent health and expanded my interest to injury prevention. I got a faculty position back in my hometown of Aurora, CO, and have worked here ever since. 

Can you describe a typical day or week in your job, and what are your main responsibilities? I teach in the MPH program and mentor MPH and doctoral students (DrPH students). I also lead research studies. One of my main projects is in partnership with our state’s health department and collects adolescent health surveillance data. Another project is studying drug impaired driving to prevent car crash related injuries. As a director of a research center I try to develop connections between students, faculty researchers, and practice partners so that students have practice-based learning opportunities and that researchers stay grounded in informing and advancing public health practice.

How did college prepare you for your career? Most of the students we train are MPH students and it’s really valuable for me to have the same degree and to have gone through similar experiences like a practicum and capstone project.

What inspired you to pursue this career and what do you enjoy most about your job? I have always worked in a university setting and I’ve always loved it. No matter your role, I feel the university setting provides the flexibility to pursue new ideas and collaborations rather than be boxed into one role or project.

What advice would you give to current students who are interested in pursuing a similar career path as you? I recommend developing your skills while a student as much as you can. For example, take methodological and skills building courses and work with faculty on their research projects. If you can, try to get involved in helping with a paper to see if you like that writing process.