Meet Our Students and Alumni

MPH Students Honored for their Work

Each year, the Master of Public Health program honors students with annual awards to recognize the hard work and diligence students have shown.

Our Public Health program prepares professionals who are dedicated to improving the health of individuals, communities and whole populations – regionally and around the world. Our alumni pursue careers in direct service, public policy, community-based clinical care or healthy choice campaigns.

Lauren Cruz, MPH 2020

"I really think that the curriculum here promotes a well rounded student. You have classes about qualitative research. You have serious classes about quantitative research and that can really be applicable not just in my track, population health but also all the other tracks in the MPH program."

Timothy McCue, MPH 2009

"Public Health is really broad and public health changes and evolves all the time."

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."

Richard Carpiano, MPH 2001

"Really I think from my experience, the biggest surprise to me was being exposed to just how broad public health is as a discipline. The students that were in my cohort at the time period and the ones that came the following year when I was still in the program really came from so many different backgrounds and so it really created a wonderful learning culture within the program itself."

Alumni and Student Spotlights

Adebanjo (BJ) Solaru

Meet Adebanjo (BJ) Solaru

Pursuing a career in a healthcare profession was not on Adebanjo (BJ) Solaru’s radar when he graduated from college. Solaru graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English and began a career in the mortgage industry. But, after 10 years in the business world, he made the decision to pivot into the healthcare field. “I was burned out in the for-profit field and found my passion through my volunteer opportunities within the community. I wanted to pursue a Master of Public Health degree to provide better outcomes for people.”

Solaru chose Case Western Reserve University because it was at the forefront of thought processes in the community. “I wanted to learn from the best while being in the place I want to help and impact the most. Case Western offered me the opportunity to use my skills in my own community and learn how to affect policy change.”

Once he decided on CWRU for his MPH, it was his wife who suggested incorporating his business skills with healthcare and encouraged him to pursue one of the MPH program’s 11 dual degree options. Solaru decided to focus on the MPH/MBA Dual Degree program with a Health Policy and Management concentration. He believes business has a role to play in making our lives better and that there is a way to capture good business to bring it to public health.

In March 2020, Solaru was selected as a Paul Ambrose Scholar. The Paul Ambrose Scholars Program prepares public health and clinical health professions students to promote change and be leaders in addressing population health challenges at the national and community level. This distinction is only offered to a cohort of 40 students from across the health professions and they are invited to attend a Student Leadership Symposium. Students commit their time and effort to improve health within their communities through the planning and implementation of a community-based project.  For Solaru’s community-based project as a Scholar, he drew on his experiences as a volunteer at the Citizens Leadership Academy. He decided to build out the mentorship program there which supported the underserved population in the community. Instead of just focusing on providing mentorship to assist 8th graders in getting accepted into high school, he focused on creating a multi grade mentoring program. His mentor for this project was Dr. Scott Frank whom he credits with his success as a Scholar. “Being one of the Scholars has been a very formative experience for me. I would not have been able to do this without the support of the MPH program. It’s been incredible to see how public health works outside of the classroom and learn how to turn my thoughts and ideas into action.”

Solaru believes the Dual Degree option is a powerful asset to the MPH program. It has allowed him to pull in learning from his MBA to MPH and integrate these in the classroom and applied professional experiences. “The interdisciplinary part of the MPH program has allowed collaborations and robust conversations in the classroom. It helps reinforce our learning and applications. The common thread among our backgrounds is that we all want to make a positive difference.”

Solaru credits his wife and 1 year old son for giving him the motivation to continue to pursue his passions. While he may not have envisioned himself working in the healthcare field 10 years ago, he is grateful for the opportunities MPH has provided him so far. “The MPH structure allows me to test my ideas and assumptions in a space that is safe and where being right or wrong is not the point. It helps you understand the elements around you in order to make decisions. The MPH directly translates to the real world and I am so grateful for the opportunities to try new things and the support that comes with it.”

Meet Vinh Trinh

After graduating from John Carroll University with a biology degree, Vinh Trinh knew his career aspirations. Vinh wanted to become an epidemiologist. In his undergraduate studies, he was introduced to the public health world, where he explored subject areas such as environmental health, equity, social justice, and a subject that caught his interest was epidemiology. Vinh had the desire to further his education and training to reach his goal of becoming an epidemiologist. Fortunately, not too far from his hometown of Brunswick, Ohio is one of the top ranked universities in the United States, CWRU.

Vinh graduated in 2022 with his Master's in Public Health. He also completed the MPH Intensive Research Pathway along with having a concentration in population health research. He strongly believes that CWRU prepared him for his career. Vinh explained that CWRU provided him with technical skills such as learning how to program and a strong understanding of the principles of epidemiology, data science and research methods. The MPH Intensive Research Pathway allowed him to have a deeper understanding of biostatistics which has proved beneficial in his job. The core curriculum of the MPH program included context to the health issues themselves while also learning more about pressing health issues at the time, for example, the Zika virus. 

Outside of the classroom, his practicum was with a non-profit that provided him with experience in data management and taught him the importance of making data accessible to the general public. Vinh was also involved in tobacco research and youth risk behavior surveillance study data collection at Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. This gave him a chance to learn more about data collection and have hands-on experience with data management and research.

Currently, Vinh is an Epidemiologist at the Cleveland Department of Public Health. His main responsibilities and subject areas are infectious diseases, HIV, STIs, and environmental health such as lead poisoning. Another responsibility Vinh has is informatics and building processes around managing, storing, and visualizing data. One thing that inspired Vinh to become an epidemiologist is that epidemiology is the pathway that data gets turned into useful information for others to use to then make health improvements. The impact of Vinh’s work is that it enables policymakers and program managers to make actionable steps to address health inequities and pressing health issues. 

Some advice he would give to students who are interested in this field is that they should not get discouraged if they aren’t the best programmer since it is important to learn data science. It is essential to know how to handle and manage data in reproducible ways for others to understand it. Vinh finds that in his career to be successful you must always be willing to learn new information and listen to others. Although Vinh is a recent graduate his long-term career goals are to continue improving his skills in health informatics at a local health level. In the future, he can see himself as a health commissioner, health director, or chief epidemiologist. During his leisure time, Vinh enjoys going to cocktail lounges such as Cloak and Dagger and the Velvet Tango Room.

MPH student

Mallory Rose Walsh, MPH Class of 2023

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio 

Degree: Masters in Public Health (MPH), Health Promotion and Disease Prevention concentration 

Why did you choose to pursue your MPH at CWRU? I knew the MPH program at CWRU would provide me with insurmountable opportunities to work with the Cleveland community and apply my public health knowledge in many real-world settings. It was important to me to attend a school that I believed reflects my passion for public health and commitment to make a difference in the community.

Can you share with me any internships or research opportunities you had and how did they contribute to your post-college plans? When I first started as a graduate student, I had the opportunity to work as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods at CWRU. I helped facilitate the administration of the Cuyahoga County Youth Risk Behavior Survey in high schools and middle schools throughout the county. I also have contributed to data analysis and dissemination. This experience greatly shaped my interest and investment in adolescent health. I am still working at the PRCHN as a staff member for the YRBS project. It has been an incredible experience working in the community alongside educators and students, while collecting meaningful data and determining how to apply this data to promote adolescent health. After graduating in May, I plan to continue pursuing this research work in adolescent health surveillance.

What impact did (or does) attending an in-person MPH program have on your outcome (learning experience)? Public health is best learned in person. Engaging in activities, projects, and other learning experiences in person has allowed me to apply my public health knowledge and learn through practice in real-time. I have had more opportunities to work with the Cleveland community, meet new people, and engage with colleagues, professors, and peers. These interactions have led to more opportunities, including research opportunities. Communicating with people in person has also allowed me to better understand concepts/topics and ideas.

What is your favorite restaurant or food spot in the city, and what do you recommend ordering there? I love Grumpy’s cafe in Tremont for their amazing breakfast dishes! I recommend the Grumpy’s special or their cinnamon roll pancakes.

Nathan Ruhde, MPH Class of 2023

Student at CWRU

Hometown: Aurora, IL

Degree: Master of Public Health (concentration in Health Policy and Management)

Why did you choose to pursue your MPH at CWRU?  I enjoyed doing my undergraduate studies at CWRU and saw valuable opportunities to get more hands-on experience. I chose an MPH because I have been passionate about solving problems from a big picture lens. 

What were some of your most impactful courses or professors, and why? Currently, I am in a Geospatial Analytics class with Jayakrishnan Ajayakumar. He does a great job of tying the coding we do in class back to real world applications.

Can you share with me any internships or research opportunities you had and how did they contribute to your post-college plans? While in the program, I did a summer research practicum at the Swetland Center for Environmental Health. The thing allowed me to qualitatively analyze data and gave me more clarity about doing research after graduation.

How did your college experience shape your personal growth and development? My experience was formative for my personal growth. I got to explore my own interests more deeply. I got to work with a lot of different people and gained valuable soft skills along the way.

Best study spot on campus? I personally like going to [Think]Box. They have hotel offices on the sixth floor that I sometimes reserve when I want to sit down and focus. 

What is your favorite activity to do in Cleveland? I enjoy going to Cleveland Charge games. They are cheap and it is fun to just experience something different.

Avantika Bhaduri, MPH Class of 2023

Student at CWRU

Hometown: Kolkata, India; Currently: Houston, Texas

Degree: Master of Public Health (MPH) Concentration: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Intensive Research Pathway 

What were some of your most impactful courses or professors, and why? One of the most impactful classes for me was Introduction to Environmental Health taught by Dr. Karen Mulloy. I enjoy the class because the subject matter was so new to me and the robust speakers. There are many speakers who would present about their careers and how they are working in the field of environmental health which could range from the city’s sewage system to OSHA to researching the impacts of air pollution. The class made me feel connected to the greater Cleveland community and also influenced my post-MPH choices.

Can you share with me any internships or research opportunities you had and how did they contribute to your post-college plans? I did my Practicum with the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Center of Child Health and Policy which is also where I currently work now. My practicum centered around well-child visits for asthma in the University Hospital Rainbow Ahuja Center for Women & Children which was heavily impacted by the pandemic. My practicum and further work with them have contributed to my post-college plans because it helped me hone which areas of public health I want to work in the future. My research experiences have made me realize the influence of policy in day-to-day healthcare proceedings and the importance of collaboration not just within a hospital system from doctors to nurses to social workers, but also the benefits of a hospital system engaging with its community as partners.

What impact did (or does) attending an in-person MPH program have on your outcome (learning experience)? The MPH program is highly collaborative and there are many group projects and class discussions so by attending in-person that experience is more fulfilling because you can engage with your faculty and classmates while bouncing off ideas and problem-solving. Additionally, since the classes tend to be once a week, it offers an opportunity to create connections with your faculty and classmates and check-in with them. They are your biggest support during the program, but also after it.

What is your favorite secret or hidden gem in Cleveland? My favorite secret spot in Cleveland is Loganberry Books in Larchmere. It has a massive collection of first editions and has every genre imaginable from Cleveland historical texts to your latest fiction.