Points of transition are sometimes the best moments, both to reflect on past experiences and look forward to new opportunities. Anne Reeder, a 2014 graduate of the Colorado School of Public Health at Colorado State University, recently found herself at one of those points, newly hired as a Public Health Associate for the CDC. We talked to Reeder on her very first day as a Public Health Associate at the Rhode Island Department of Health. Even though she had been through a whirlwind of training and introductions, Reeder took the time to tell us about her first day and the trajectory that brought her to that point.

Reeder was placed at the Rhode Island Department of Health in Providence, Rhode Island. The Public Health Associate Program, coordinated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a competitive, two-year, paid training program that assigns public health professionals to work with public health agencies and non-governmental organizations. Reeder’s main focus during her two-year journey will be minority and youth programming.  She will not only spearhead specific public health interventions, but she will also work to build coalitions and gather stakeholders around the issue. With the Department of Health just steps away from the Rhode Island state capitol building, Anne will also work to mobilize policy interventions to impact public health.

Reeder is a registered nurse, and has worked in many different healthcare settings. She spent several years as a nurse with Nurse-Family Partnership, helping first-time mothers to manage pregnancy and motherhood through in-home visits. While in this position, Reeder worked with the Boulder County Public Health Department to create food safety materials specifically targeted at new mothers. “As a home-visit nurse, I was able to see such concrete changes as I worked with one family over time,” Reeder says. “I think that is such a valuable piece of public health: bringing about change on a small scale that, when added up creates real community difference.”

One of the most unusual was her time as a correctional nurse, where Reeder studied the food available at Boulder County Jail. Inmates with Type II Diabetes often struggled with meeting their nutritional needs through the food offered. Through surveys of these inmates, Reeder discovered that they were very satisfied with the medical care provided by the nursing staff at the jail, but they wanted more access to healthy, fresh foods to complement their insulin regimens.

While at the Colorado School of Public Health at Colorado State University, Reeder was in the Public Health Nutrition concentration. She credits one of her favorite classes, Food Systems taught by Dr. Garry Auld, “I love how collaborative the Public Health program is,” Reeder notes. “Food Systems is a good example, bringing in experts and practitioners from many different disciplines to help build our understanding on a complex topic.”

As Reeder looks forward, she hopes to bring the one-on-one patient rapport she developed as nurse to the application strategies she learned in her public health education: “I look forward to rising to a new challenge. I am excited for Day Two as a Public Health Associate!”