SPHHS Salutes Internship Sponsors and Community Partners

May 14, 2013

Service was the focus at a recent awards banquet held by the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) at the Campus Center. Over 100 people gathered at the Campus Center for the event, appropriately enough called the Celebration of Service Breakfast. Amongst the attendees were current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of SPHHS from the community.

Elizabeth Cardona, Director of the Massachusetts Governor’s Office in the Western Region, was the keynote speaker for the event and spoke of her personal experiences growing up and how they led her to realize the important role of service. Kristin Mattocks, Associate Chief of Staff and Research at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leeds, was the master of ceremonies for the event.

Intern mentors gather at the breakfast with their awards from SPHHS.

A succession of speakers also spoke of the importance of professional mentors, including SPHHS Dean C. Marjorie Aelion and Cristina Huebner Torres of Caring Health Center in Springfield and her two interns, Sabina Dhakal and Shana Petriello. More than 300 professional mentors from the past five years were honored at the event for their contribution to the professional training of student interns, and those mentors attending the event were presented with certificates of appreciation.

“We could never adequately train our students without the time and dedication from the community partners who supervise our students as they learn how to apply their academic learning in the real world. It is an invaluable contribution to graduate and undergraduate education,” said Risa Silverman, Coordinator for SPHHS’s Office for Public Health Practice & Outreach.

SPHHS awarded Jeff Harness, Director for Integrated Care and Population Health at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the Distinguished Service Award honoring outstanding leadership in the field of public health. Elizabeth Cardona also presented Harness with a citation from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Writing a few days after the event, Harness explained, “I was surprised and really happy to receive the Distinguished Service Award and the citation from Governor Patrick. To be recognized in front of my western Massachusetts public health peers was very special and an experience I will always treasure.” An SPHHS alumnus, Harness received his Master’s in Public Health from the university before beginning his career at Cooley Dickinson.

Jeff Harness (at left), winner of the Distinguished Service Award,
with Elizabeth Cardona (center) and Dean C. Marjorie Aelion (at right).

Taking place Friday April 26 from 8:30-10 a.m., the event also marked 75 years since the creation of the Department of Public Health at the university and was part of a week of celebrations marking Founder’s Week and 150 years since the founding of Massachusetts Agricultural College, which later became UMass Amherst.