Congratulations To Our December 2016 Graduates

The School of Public Health is proud of our more than 50 Master of Public Health and Ph.D. students who graduated on Dec. 14.

Our Fall 2016 graduating class includes a mother of twins who works to prevent teen dating violence, a health educator who loves the heart, and a pharmacist from Taiwan who’s devoted to learning. Meet some of the exceptional graduate students who received their degrees:


Convocation Student Speaker: Rayleen Lewis

MPH, Biostatistics

While earning her master’s degree, Lewis worked as a graduate research assistant examining the effects of trauma on the mental health of children and adolescents. She has been offered an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Diseases where she will research human papillomavirus, also known as HPV.

She spoke during the ceremony about the hard work and joy of finding your link in the public health chain.


Alana Vivolo-Kantor

Ph.D., Health Promotion & Behavior

Alana Vivolo-Kantor is on the front lines of efforts to curb youth violence. The research for her dissertation focused on understanding how bullying, particularly with middle school-aged youth, might predict acts of teen dating violence.

Her research is part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program for middle school kids, called Dating Matters, that Vivolo-Kantor hopes makes a difference in the lives of youth and their communities. That passion to help others propelled her forward as she balanced school, worked vigorously at CDC and had twins while working on her dissertation.

“It’s a constant struggle, even now without school,” she said of caring for her twins. “I think the nice thing is that I have an amazingly supportive husband and family, and very supportive colleagues and bosses.”


Oluwatoyin Adedapo-Jimoh

MPH, Health Policy & Management

Growing up, Adedapo-Jimoh was prepared to follow her family’s path into the clinical world of health care. Her mother is a registered nurse and her brother is a resident physician in psychiatry.

She began her undergraduate studies in 2010 at Rutgers University as a biological sciences major but switched to public health after taking introductory public health classes.

“I found out that I really enjoy health policy and the public health world,” she said.

“My passion for public health stems from the fact that it holds such a broad reaching impact and provides an avenue to make valuable changes in the health care industry for the greater population.”

Since 2014, she has worked with Georgia State University’s Bio-Bus Program, which travels to public and private schools around the state and provides K-12 students with fun, hands-on science lessons, ranging from biology to chemistry.

One of the lessons Adedapo-Jimoh teaches is about the cardiovascular system, using models to point out vessels and chambers. The preserved cow heart always draws a big reaction from the kids, she said.

“It is always so great to see an interest in the STEM (science technology education and math) field spark in these students,” she said.

She said she’d like a career involving public health policy and is exploring different employment opportunities.

“After a few years of work experience under my belt, I hope to enter a Ph.D. program.”


View on shelves of a pharmacy

Yeong Ruey Chu

MPH, Epidemiology

Chu was an undergraduate pharmacy student in Taiwan and interning at a hospital when he decided he wanted to earn a master’s degree in public health.

“I was able to see what drugs were most used in the hospital and the interaction between drug and disease,” he said. He’s now interested in researching how drugs treating specific diseases might affect patients’ overall health or impact other ailments.

Chu came to Georgia State University last year through a student exchange partnership that allows elite students from China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, to earn graduate degrees from both institutions.

Chu says his experience in Atlanta has provided him with valuable insight into chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, which he says are also big health problems in Taiwan.

“It has opened my eyes,” he said. “I’ve really learned a lot—everything from policy to cultural issues.”

Earning an MPH in a year’s time means Chu studies—a lot. But when he has time on the weekends, he likes to hop on MARTA and explore the city.

“I really like Centennial Olympic Park,” he said.


Stories by Jeremy Craig and Kathleen Joyner
Photos by Steve Thackston and Kathleen Joyner