Leah Maschino has always been interested in helping people. She is working her passion by strengthening Flint families and helping prevent substance use disorders.
March 7, 2019
From Charleston South Carolina to Davison Michigan, Leah Maschino, CHM MPH ‘17, has always been interested in helping people. She works for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Flint campus in the Division of Public Health. She is the Project Administrator for the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions (FCHES), Strengthening Flint Families intervention designed to reduce behavioral health disparities and improve family resilience in the Flint Community.
FCHES is a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)-funded Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center (TCC) for health disparities research on chronic disease prevention that is focused on Flint with broader implications from the work we do across the state and the nation (NIMHD; #U54MD011227).
Why did you pursue a career in public health?
A: I have always been interested in helping people. I found the concept of public health--achieving optimal health and wellness for all populations-- to be fascinating and I knew I wanted to be a part of this work in some way. I am also interested in health promotion, nutrition, maternal and child health, mental and physical health, and substance misuse prevention--all of which are related to public health. I love that public health is so inclusive of many topics yet all working towards similar goals.
How do you work to help prevent substance use?
A: My work in public health focuses on improving family resilience, which can help prevent substance use disorders from occurring in both youth and adults. I am also working to increase access to substance use treatment and prevention programs, as well as reduce the stigma around participating in these types of programs.
Why does it matter?
A: "An estimated 1.3 million U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 had a substance use disorder in 2014 (5% of all adolescents)" (SAMHSA, 2018). Substance use disorders can be prevented for both youth and adults. Building healthy family relationships and protective factors are essential in preventing the onset of substance use disorders, among other things.
Provide a summary of your job description.
A: I am the Project Administrator for Strengthening Flint Families (SFF). SFF is a project within the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions, funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. SFF is a multi-level intervention that seeks to improve access to individual and family level interventions (Peer Recovery Coaching and Strengthening Families Program, respectively).
Also, we will be implementing a Multi-Media Campaign to increase awareness of these programs and work to reduce the stigma that is often present when seeking to participate in these programs. I am responsible for the coordination of SFF and keeping us on track with our milestones and timelines while streamlining communication among team members.
SFF is unique in that we have several team members from various entities (UM School of Nursing, Flint Odyssey House, and Michigan State University). I also help to build a referral network in which we are establishing referral sites, host sites, and adopter sites for Peer Recovery Coaching and Strengthening Families Program. The idea behind this referral network will be to increase access and promote the existence of the programs.
Why did you choose MSU to pursue your Master of Public Health?
A: I started the MSU Master of Public Health Program when I was living in Charleston, South Carolina, so I liked that the program was 100% online. I knew I would be moving back home to Michigan at some point during my time in the program, so the fact that it was solely online helped guide my decision to go through MSU. I am also a fan of the Michigan State Spartans and think MSU is a wonderful institution. I’m proud to be a Spartan Alumna, Go Green!
If you were to share a best practice with current MPH students, what would you want them to know?
A: My best advice to current MPH students would be to get involved and gain as much public health experience as possible, even at the beginning of the program. There are so many directions one can go in public health. Take advantage of the opportunities in your area by joining a local coalition. Reach out to your professors, learn about their work in public health, and explore how they may be able to help you get involved.
What accomplishment makes you proud?
A: In addition to achieving a master's degree in Public Health from Michigan State University, I have the opportunity to apply what I've learned into real-world settings in need of positive change. The Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions is embedded in the Flint community and is working to make a difference in Flint. I am proud to be a part of this work and be able to use the skills and knowledge I learned in the MPH program to make a difference in people's lives.
Anything else you would like to add?
A: If you are interested in pursuing public health, seek out local coalitions in your area and get involved. I gained a lot of experience by working with a local coalition and becoming more involved with the community. Local organizations and health departments may also be good places to reach out to and learn about volunteer or job opportunities! I believe that the form of experience and involvement is vital in public health.
Leah Maschino, CHM MPH ‘17
Project Administrator, Strengthening Flint Families
Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions
Spartan in Public Health