Three alumni enter public health programs in the Twin Cities

Hannah Yee’19, Favi Ramirez’20, and Jack Collins’21 first met in the Beloit Public Health Initiative (BPHI), a campus group that provides health-related resources to the Beloit community. They encouraged each other to get master of public health degrees, and now they’re together at the University of Minnesota.

The chain reaction began when Hannah Yee’19 reached out to Favi Ramirez’20 for more information about the University of Minnesota’s MPH program.

“I was so excited to learn that Favi was a year ahead [of me] doing her MPH in Maternal and Child Health,” Hannah recalls. “She sold me on the school. She explained how her professors were very understanding and personal and that she enjoyed being in the Twin Cities.”

Not long after, Hannah became involved in the Beloiters Helping Beloiters program, which aimed to help students graduating during the pandemic, serving as a mentor for none other than her fellow BPHI alum, Jack Collins’21. But they didn’t know that they were both headed for Minneapolis until they had already been accepted into the same Community Health Promotion MPH cohort.

Since this past fall, the trio meet up frequently — and not just to talk about public health, though the topic seemed inescapable some days.

“The three of us hang out a lot, and I have loved getting to know them more,” Hannah says. “We sometimes go out and eat dinners together, do lap swimming together three times a week, and have classes with each other.”

Time for you to meet them, too.

FAVI RAMIREZ’20

Favi Ramirez’s passion for educating her community about public health access began in high school as a teen health advocate in a city-wide health council run through the Mikva Challenge Foundation. She investigated STI rates and unwanted teen pregnancies in Chicago, and with the council, created a social media campaign and weighed in on the sex education curriculum in the Chicago public school system.

“My experiences in youth empowerment had a significant impact in my understanding of public health and the youth voice,” Favi says.

Favi’s advocacy continued at Beloit, where she majored in health and society and minored in Spanish. She focused much of her research on social determinants of health, such as race, ethnicity, and economic status, and how they relate to pre- and postnatal care. A first-generation college student, she was honored with Beloit’s Cummings Community Health Prize and the SSEC Grace and Lawrence Ousley Award. She also led both the Spanish Club and BPHI.

“I learned the importance of showing consistent support,” she says of her community work with BPHI. “I really enjoyed cultivating a community every year among my peers, who felt the same passion for public health and brought in different lived experiences and skill sets.”

Favi graduated from Beloit away from campus in the early months of the pandemic. By the fall, she had already enrolled in her Maternal and Child Health program — not in spite of the inherent challenges of learning about public health during an international health crisis, but because of them.

“We talked about COVID-19 in every class, and I felt reassured that this is where I needed to be.”

HANNAH YEE’19

?I loved working with the community and found public health to be encompassing of all issues revo... “I loved working with the community and found public health to be encompassing of all issues revolving around social justice and health equity.” –Hannah Yee’19

Psychology major and museum studies minor Hannah Yee was inspired to pursue a career in public health by Ron Watson, her Honors Term mentor, BPHI advisor, and an associate professor of Health and Society and Political Science.

“He shaped my time at Beloit,” Hannah says. “The way he teaches about the world is very eye-opening.”

For her Honors Term, Hannah conducted research about the intersection of Rock County’s high rates of sexually transmitted infections and the opioid epidemic — knowledge that she incorporated into her community organizing and leadership of BPHI.

“Being a part of BPHI greatly impacted my choice to go into public health because I loved working with the community and found public health to be encompassing of all issues revolving around social justice and health equity,” she says.

Hannah returned to school after working two years at an environmental nonprofit in her hometown of San Francisco. Her passion for protecting the human right to health has kept her going through the transition to graduate school.

“Going back to school has been a shock and a big adjustment, but I am very thankful for my education at Beloit because it has prepared me to understand theory, conceptual models, and contribute to class discussions,” says Hannah.

?The education I received at Beloit encourages me to be adaptable in a changing public health fie... The education I received at Beloit encourages me to be adaptable in a changing public health field and world.” –Jack Collins’21

JACK COLLINS’21

Minnesota native Jack Collins wanted to find ways to incorporate his philosophy major into the public health field. Public policy fit the bill perfectly — and he didn’t have to wait to get to Minneapolis to try it out.

“Biomedical Ethics provided me with a deep understanding of the role that ethics plays in our daily lives, particularly in the healthcare system,” Jack says. “[Professor of Philosophy] Matt Tedesco encouraged me to approach my philosophy major and interest in public health [with] interdisciplinary approaches and solutions.”

Jack was constantly on the move while he was a Beloit student. Besides his role in BPHI, he was also a Resident Assistant, Student Excellence and Leadership (SEL) mentor, and a regular participant in Sustained Dialogue — to name just a few. With Jack’s affinity for making connections with people and helping them find solutions, it’s no surprise that he recently became a dietary interviewer in the public health school’s Epidemiology and Community Health division.

As the pandemic drags on, Jack’s Beloit education has helped prepare him for whatever comes next.

The education I received at Beloit encourages me to be adaptable in a changing public health field and world.”

Meg Kulikowski’21
February 28, 2022
  • Hannah Yee’19, Favi Ramirez’20, and Jack Collins’21 are all pursuing master of public health degrees at the University of Minnesota.

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