Kent State’s College of Public Health Hosts Virtual Public Health Academy for High School Students

We all know the world has changed, perhaps forever. The overall lesson of the COVID- 19 pandemic is that we need a public health workforce, prepared at all levels, to monitor the world for emerging infectious diseases, to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases, to develop new treatments and vaccines, and to invent novel approaches never seen before.

Kent State University’s College of Public Health is addressing this workforce challenge, in part, by hosting the 2020 Virtual Public Health Academy for three weeks in August. This is the first year that this summer program is entirely virtual and includes 15 Akron Public School students in grades 10 through 12. The academy, which runs Aug. 3-21, is made possible by a grant from Akron Community Foundation.
“We are pleased to partner with the College of Public Health to make this program available to high school students,” said John Garofalo, Akron Community Foundation’s vice president of community investment. “With the ongoing pandemic, it is more important than ever for young people to learn about careers in public health.”

Academy students will complete a variety of activities, including working with local health departments to develop educational campaigns and COVID-19 response posters, meeting with public health professionals in Zoom sessions, competing in online team challenges to develop plans for computer games and phone apps that can be used to teach others about public health risks and interventions, and much more.

“The Virtual Public Health Academy at Kent State University gives our students a deeper understanding of the importance of public health and how it affects every career pathway and everyday life,” said Rachel Tecca, Akron Public Schools’ director of College & Career Academies. “This underscores the importance of having partners like Kent State who continually bring real-world learning opportunities to our students.”

As an initiative of the Kent State College of Public Health’s “Pathways to Public Health” mission, the Virtual Public Health Academy includes four areas of study:

  1. Exploring “What is Public Health?” by participating in activities involving disease detection, disease prevention, community health education, impact of lifestyle on health, health and the environment, and the biological basis of health.
  2. Understanding pandemics by learning about how disease develops and spreads, how contagious diseases can be contained, how information is disseminated across the globe during times of pandemic, community response, treatments and vaccines, and how our behaviors impact our future.
  3. Determining what students can do in the coming school year to lead friends and family through this difficult time and provide service to our communities.
  4. Exploring future careers in public health. 

“Now more than ever, it’s time for our future young leaders to understand the study of community health and how we can work together to keep our communities safer and healthier,” said Sonia Alemagno, Ph.D., dean of Kent State’s College of Public Health. “Our virtual academy provides an interactive learning experience for Akron Public Schools students.”

“The Kent State Virtual Public Health Academy really opened my eyes to people working in the medical field,” said Molly, a sophomore at Firestone High School in Akron, who is planning a future career as a physical therapist.

Kent State’s College of Public Health was established in 2010 and is one of only two accredited colleges of public health in Ohio. It is the first school in Ohio to offer a Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree and a nationally ranked Master of Public Health program. The college is training students to meet the current and projected shortage of public health professionals across the nation and is built on the Academic Health Department model, which fosters collaboration between schools and local public health agencies to combine academic scholarship and public health practice. For more information about Kent State’s College of Public Health, visit

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Media Contacts:
Tracy Schlemmer,, 330-672-6512
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595 

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 02:16 PM
UPDATED: Friday, December 09, 2022 12:28 PM
Julie Miller