Sarah Janelle (previously Sarah Jackson) chose a concentration in Global Health & Health Disparities because she always had a passion for the health and well-being of people in developing countries. She also loves to travel and experience new cultures, foods, sites, and people.

When Sarah was 9 years old, she traveled to Guatemala with her family on a mission trip and saw true poverty and sickness for the first time. Her eyes were opened and her perspective on life was shaken a bit as she had grown up ‘comfortably’ in a middle-class home, had a meal on her plate three times a day, enjoyed new clothes and shoes, and received routine medical care.

Watching children walk barefoot through the city dump sifting through the trash for food, serving meals in a jail, helping disabled children in a hospital, and interacting with orphans all impacted me greatly and created a desire in me to want to help and serve those in need someday.”

After graduating from college, Sarah traveled to Peru and volunteered in a rural health clinic. She assisted the nurses and doctors by performing vitals on patients, made house visits to check up on mothers and their newborns, and provided HIV screening to individuals. Observing health care (and public health!) in a rural setting was a valuable learning experience and enforced her desire to pursue a Masters in Public Health.

During grad school at the CSPH, Sarah thoroughly enjoyed her global health classes at CSU and on the Anschutz campus. While a student, she worked as an intern at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), in the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section, performing surveillance of invasive MRSA infections and influenza hospitalizations. Conducting disease surveillance, assisting with outbreak investigations and learning what public health was like at the state level was all very beneficial and provided her an opportunity to network in the public health community.

Sarah completed her practicum and capstone project with the Refugee Health Program at CDPHE, realizing that work in global health doesn’t always involve traveling overseas to another country; in fact, global health is in our own backyard! Through her practicum and capstone projects, she learned about the thousands of refugees that arrive in Colorado every year, and the comprehensive program in place to provide mental and physical health screenings to every refugee.

Health Guide

Since the goal of the refugee health program is for refugees to attain optimal health, autonomy, and successful resettlement in Colorado, Sarah wanted to assist in this process by developing a resource that addressed common barriers to refugee health care (e.g., language differences, navigating the US health care system, understanding health services available to them). With the help of staff at the Refugee Health Program, she developed a “Health Guide” that provides refugees with tools to navigate the health care system and explain health services available to them. These guides were translated into common refugee languages with the overall goal to help improve access to and understanding of health services in Colorado.

CSPH students travel to Thailand 2011

Sarah also had the opportunity to travel to Thailand with other MPH students and a professor to learn about the health care system in what she describes as “a captivating country.” They visited various types of health care settings, from small rural clinics to large international hospitals, and met with public health professionals, including UNICEF, USAID, and other groups, to learn about the public health efforts in Thailand.

After graduating from the CSPH in 2011, Sarah took a position in the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section at CDPHE as a healthcare-associated infections epidemiologist. During the 2 1/2 years in this position, she has assisted with multiple outbreaks in healthcare facilities, as well as foodborne outbreaks, including the 2011 Listeriaoutbreak linked to cantaloupe in Colorado, and conducted healthcare-associated infection projects with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including surveillance of multi-drug resistant organisms and the bacterial disease, Clostridium difficile. She is also involved in efforts to raise awareness among patients and health care providers about safe medical injections in order to eliminate outbreaks and situations resulting from unsafe injection practices.

Sarah considers every day to be an exciting opportunity to interact with Colorado’s great health care providers, infection control staff, public health partners and the community, and to offer education, data and guidance to prevent and control disease transmission and promote best public health practices.

Sarah says she is very grateful for the knowledge and experience she gained through work and travel opportunities during her time at the CSPH.

“The program equipped me with the necessary understanding and skills that have helped me daily, especially as I continue to learn every day in the ever-growing field of public health.”