Meeting people where they are was a common theme of this years’ capstone projects.  Two students, Hannah and Yosely, share their interests, lessons, and future endeavors, to give a close look into what all goes into the capstone process.

Hannah Groves, an MPH student with a dual concentration in Global Health and Health Disparities and Health Communications, is set to be a part-time student since she is working full-time for a public health institute. Hannah’s capstone was based off developing a framework and outreach strategy to support the creation of a land use code toolkit that could be used statewide. The purpose of her capstone is to help multiple Colorado communities promote health through land use codes that will prepare the communities with information that assists in health promotion.

When asked about the most valuable lessons she has learned through this experience, Hannah says,

“The biggest lesson learned for me is how much time it takes to really incorporate peoples’ perspectives into a project. In the context of my Capstone, this meant facilitating meetings and processes in a way that solicited meaningful feedback from working professionals, which sounds easier than it is!”

She believes that through her capstone, she was able to grow her confidence surrounding her public health skills and competencies.

“Even though I possessed them before, it was great to feel encouraged and supported in practicing them in a real-world setting. My preceptors really let me mold the project based on my interests and strengths, while providing support and coaching and I ended my Capstone feeling much more confident in myself.” Hannah says.

With her capstone being a success, Hannah found multiple different aspects of public health that she has enjoyed. She enjoys advocating for policy, systems, built environment, and other upstream approaches. She also finds her interests lie in authentic community engagement in all forms; especially when it is an event where she can talk to and meet people to see what inspires and motivates them. In all, she enjoys bringing people together and learning what their passions are so she can support them in their own work and areas of expertise.

Yosely Ruiz, an MPH student with a concentration in Physical Activity and Healthy Lifestyles, is set to graduate in 2021. Yosely’s capstone is the analysis of existing literature on health claims in restaurant menus and whether they have an impact on American adult’s food choices. Through her research, she found that, in small samples, there is some effect that people are noticing health claims on restaurant menus when making decisions.

When asked about her most valuable lessons learned through the capstone experience, Yosely describes,

“There are always things we can unlearn and continue learning. That is an important lesson because every community is different and there are multiple factors that can affect a health outcome.”

Prior to her studies, Yosely’s public health interests were sparked through a combination of experiences. Community members and friends were asking for her advice on her fitness regimen and diet. She realized that she could have a positive influence on others and their own health. That was when she began to take an interest in expanding and spreading her knowledge of fitness and health.

Yosely hopes to “Promote physical activity and help remove barriers that keep people from exercising if they are able. I also want to promote that any form of physical activity, not just exercising at a gym, can be beneficial to a person’s quality of life. Ideally, creating spaces where adults feel comfortable to move more and not be afraid to ‘play again’ would be really rewarding.”

Within public health, Yosely enjoys finding ways to incorporate physical activity that can be enjoyable for others. Throughout her classes, her enjoyment in her concentration remains the same as when she first started.

Both Hannah and Yosely showcased their care for communities. Through the practicum and capstone requirements, ColoradoSPH students are achieving their personal and professional goals all while helping communities and populations in need.


Written by Erica J Carter