Sarah Ali awarded competitive fellowship from CDC
October 4, 2011
Goodbye, Arnold School. Hello, New York!
Arnold School alumna Sarah Ali settling into life as a field agent for the Orange County, N.Y., Department of Health.
Ali, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree, will be working for the county health department through the Public Health Associates Programs (PHAP), a fellowship program under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control.
The PHAP is a competitive program that puts qualified applicants to work in state, tribal, local and territorial public health agencies for two years of on-the-job training. Ali was selected as one of 64 applicants nationwide.
Ali says she'll spend the first year working for the emergency preparedness arm of the health department, helping prepare for public health emergencies that arise from natural and man-made disasters. Year two will find her working with communicable diseases, helping the county epidemiologist track a variety of diseases.
These critical years will give her a thorough grounding in public health practice. "I know I want to work in public health, and the reason I applied for this program was to give me an idea of where I want to go," she says.
Orange County, a largely rural area in the southeastern corner of New York, has a population of about 372,000 and is about 40 miles from Manhattan.
Despite its rural roots, Orange County is considered to be among the fastest growing regions of the New York City metropolitan area. It is home to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and its location between two rivers presents an opportunity to kayak, Ali says.
Being close to New York City is a plus, too, but it's equally nice that her assignment puts her close to her home town of West Long Branch on the New Jersey shore.
"As much as I like USC, I think you grow more if you experience new places," says Ali, who is looking ahead to California or Colorado as attractive locations for advanced studies, including a Ph.D.
As an alumna, Ali still describes herself as a dedicated Gamecock. "I was sold on USC when I visited a friend there during my senior year in high school. She showed me around and I instantly felt at home in a school with a lot of spirit and educational opportunity.
"Being accepted into the USC Honors Program was frosting on the cake because of tuition benefits and smaller classes," she says.
In her junior year, Ali was named a USC Magellan Scholar and conducted research on the health benefits of vegan diets. A research paper, Motivation and Health Behaviors Associated with Adoption of More Plant Based Diets among College-Aged Students, was an award winner at USC's 2011 Discovery Day competition.