Kendra Wilson, DrPH, CHES, CPH

Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health
Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences
Office of Global Health

How have you contributed to one of CDC’s priorities through your ASPPH/CDC Fellowship assignment? Explain what you have done that has “made a difference” at CDC and benefitted public health in the United States.

In the Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, we strive to improve health outcomes through a competent, sustainable, and empowered public health workforce. Serving on the ERSA team, in the Epidemiology Workforce Branch, I contributed to the selection of three classes of Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers, including assisting in the successful completion of the first ever virtual selection and match process in the program’s history. As a member of the evaluation unit of ERSA, I evaluated the didactic trainings of EIS and the Laboratory Leadership Service to improve the curriculum that prepares these future leaders of the public health workforce. I also evaluated the Science Ambassador Fellowship (SAF) trainings which prepare secondary STEM educators to teach public health and introduces the next generation to careers in public health. These evaluations provide valuable feedback on SAF’s progress towards reaching its goals. I designed the evaluation of the new CDC NERD Academy, which provides an epidemiology curriculum for secondary STEM educators to use in various educational settings. In addition, I supported the formation of the EIS DiversityEquityInclusion Council and the evaluation of its initiatives.

Outside of my branch, I provided expertise to enhance guidance to schools on how to operate safely during the pandemic while deployed to the schools unit of the Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force of the CDC COVID19 Response. I have also contributed to several working groups and internal organizations at CDC by serving on committees, serving as facilitator or technical support during conferences, and reviewing abstracts.

How will your fellowship experience shape your career?

My fellowship experience will shape my career by adding depth and breadth to my public health knowledge and skills. As a member of EWB, I trained alongside EIS officers and LLS fellows, gaining a deeper understanding of applied epidemiology, the fieldwork required, and how epidemiology and lab science are interdependent during an outbreak investigation. I also learned to do basic coding in the software program R which allowed me to perform quantitative data analyses. Being on the EWB evaluation unit has allowed me to take a deeper dive into the field of evaluation, something I have been wanting to explore more since my academic public health training. While assisting with the selection processes of fellowships in our branch, I have been able to reflect on my own skills, assessing what my strengths and gaps are. Throughout my fellowship, I have been given the opportunity to learn and apply new transferrable skills such as data visualization, written communication, and leadership. Moreover, my fellowship experience has given me a firsthand look at how the federal public health system interacts with state and local public health systems and how the work at each level can be both similar and different.

Describe specifically some of the relationships/partnerships you have built through the fellowship and how those relationships have helped/will help you in your career.

I am fortunate to have met so many amazing people during my fellowship. My relationship with my mentor has been instrumental in helping me to explore career options, network with other CDC employees, and gain a broader perspective on how to define good supervision. Through networking at CDC, I have been able to meet alumni from my school of public health, former ASPPH interns and fellows, and various subject matter experts. These interactions have increased my circle of public health contacts with whom I can learn from and collaborate with in the future to tackle emerging issues in public health.