I AM FPHLP 2019: Lydia Holland

Lydia Holland Professional Head ShotLydia Holland was part of the 2019 FPHLP cohort. She is a Junior majoring in biology and minoring in Public Health at Mississippi University for Women. Last summer Lydia interned at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital (SJMCH) within the Community Health Improvement Department in Chelsea, Michigan. As an intern of the SJMCH Community Health Improvement Department, Lydia was responsible for analyzing data from a community health needs assessment and conducting research on the effects of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and opioids on youth behavior. From that data, she was able to create a positive social norms campaign and an 11-month curriculum, for the local school districts, to reduce the chance of usage and combat the stigma among the youth in Chelsea, Michigan. During the development of this campaign, they hosted community events to further increase awareness about substance avoidance and bridge relationships between community members and the SJMCH’s Community Health Improvement Department.

Lydia was enticed to participate in FPHLP because the University of Michigan is ranked among the top 5 of the Best Public Health Graduate Programs in the United States of America. Plus, she wanted to see what life was like outside of the corners of her home state, Mississippi. With that in mind, she knew that the University of Michigan FPHLP Staff and Mentors would challenge her the most, so that she could further develop her passions in health behavior and health education and be able to better articulate the career path she’d like to take within the public health field.

Lydia Holland at the Closing CeremonyThe highlight of Lydia’s FPHLP experience was when she finalized her research poster and presented it to her mentors, peers, and the University of Michigan staff. Lydia felt accomplished when it was all said and done, because her peers offered so much support throughout the process of her learning how to create a poster and how to really keep an audience engaged. When the day came for Lydia to present, her peers and Lydia were very much dapper and had the research to match! The endless amount of positive feedback and constructive criticism gave Lydia the confidence she needed so that she could eloquently and effectively present research in the future.

Because Lydia always ponder on how even the smallest things could affect her future, she was challenged throughout the entire program to simply just focus on the beautiful things around her and the potential connections she could make if she was more aware of her surroundings. As a result, Lydia found a balance between staying focused on her future goals and being more aware of her surroundings so that she can manifest those things.

After leaving FPHLP, Lydia assumed the elected position for Vice President of the Student Government Association (SGA) at the Mississippi University for Women. Because FPHLP mentors and staff challenged her to lead with a pair of public health lenses on, she’s been able to use her platform to successfully implement food plans that cater to vegan, pescatarian, and vegetarian diets. Lydia also had the opportunity to meet with Mississippi legislators and officials to create a plan to address the lack of voter participation among ages 18 to 26. In the 2020 spring term, Lydia plans on conducting research and completing a community health needs assessment, at her university, to abstract qualitative and quantitative data that will allow SGA to create an intervention program to address the sexual health disparities of their student body.

Lydia Holland at the CDC ShowcaseAs a result of FPHLP, Lydia has added a minor in public health education to her undergraduate course studies and will be applying to dual MPH & M.D. programs so that she can become a more well-rounded, educated physician. Lydia has aspirations to open hospitals that cater to the needs of underrepresented populations and emphasizes employment in those populations, too. With an MPH, it will allow Lydia to go further than just treating the symptoms by addressing the underlying causes of certain behaviors that affect one’s overall health.

Lydia’s advice to someone considering applying to FPHLP is that small town people can do big things, too. Whether you have a high or low GPA, lengthy or concise resume -- remember to be confident in all of your accomplishments and put your best foot forward in applying. The world around you is advancing, so don’t allow your zip code to keep you from doing the same. Challenge yourself and apply. Regardless of the turn out, you’ll be thankful that you did.