At the start of 2020, Lindsey Rose was paired with MSU researcher Todd Lucas, PhD, C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, for her MSU Master of Public Health (MPH) practicum experience. But the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic made her practicum experience different from most.

 Her practicum focused on developing a new program studying the relationship between colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and health equity. It consisted of working with Flint’s Greater Holy Temple Church to distribute free take-home CRC screening test to residents.

“It was a lot planning, preparation, making connections; we were just missing the actual distribution piece,” Rose said. Even though the distribution portion of the program was temporarily delayed, it eventually came into fruition after months of development behind the scenes.

Taking the Next Step

Rose received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics in 2014 from MSU and decided pursuing an MPH would be her next step. Volunteering with community-based organizations and her local health department during this time sparked a passion for finding a job that would allow her to work with community members. Rose said, “As I made my way through the MPH program, I was still passionate about nutrition, and still am, but I was definitely looking at other areas in my knowledge base that I wanted to expand on and learning something new.”

After earning her MPH degree in Summer 2020, Rose began to do some volunteer work for Dr. Lucas to continue to build her resume and to make more contacts in the public health space. “I had a great practicum experience, but, due to COVID-19 restrictions during my practicum, I didn’t have a lot of job experience in the field,” Rose said.

Turning Connections Into Opportunities

When Dr. Lucas’s research was awarded a grant from the American Cancer Society that would help fund full-time staff, Rose was offered a position on the research team. The community-based research resonated with her the most and led her to gladly accept the job.

In her current role as a research assistant during the early stages of project development, Rose’s duties include researching similar studies, developing different questionnaires, and participant recruitment. “I really like the flexibility and how my typical day doesn’t always look the same.” She added that creating and maintaining community partnerships has also been crucial for the CRC project. Rose is looking forward to seeing the project come to fruition and the impact among Flint residents.

“A community partner recently said to me - even if we only reach one person, our work was worth it,” said Rose. “Every person I meet with, counsel, or connect with health resources could be one less person to die from a preventable disease. And for each person we help, we learn how to improve our messaging or delivery to help even more people in the future.”

Her Advice for MPH Students and Upcoming Grads?

Take advantage of MSU’s network of connections. “That’s something that the MSU MPH program does really well – there’s a lot of people out there…anything you need help with, there’s a person within the network that can help you.”