Two Public Health Alumni Receive U of T Arbor Award
By: Francoise Makanda, Communications Officer, DLSPH
Anne-Marie Landis-Groom and Jennifer Mary Bell received an Arbor Award on July 1, 2018 in recognition for their tremendous generosity and contributions to the experience of U of T students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The Arbor Awards recognize alumni who personify the very best attributes of the University’s motto, Velut Arbor Aevo – May it grow as a tree through the ages — and individuals who have served to anchor its traditions and spread its mission.
Landis-Groom and Bell shared their thoughts on the award and why they give back to the School.
Anne-Marie Landis-Groom graduated in 2005 with a Master of Health Science in the field of Occupational and Environmental Health (professional training option in Occupational Hygiene).
“Since I graduated, the way people work is shifting,” said Landis-Groom. “Technology, demographic and patterns of employment are constantly changing occupational health demands. Public health graduates will need to anticipate new developments and its associated risks.”
“We also still have to manage historical risks and bring them under control, preferably before illness or disability occur. In addition, it is becoming more evident how different public health disciplines are interconnected and we have to collaborate for public health success.”
One way that she has kept abreast of new developments in the field is by remaining involved as a mentor with the DLSPH/PHAA Mentorship Program since it launched in 2013. She said it offers a great way for students and alumni to share information that has a positive impact on both mentees and mentors. Giving back is paramount for Landis-Groom.
“Volunteer service and engagement within the U of T community is important to me for many reasons: It allows me to help others, it supports my continual learning, and it builds professional and personal connections between people. Remaining engaged in the community highlights the observation that the students have a bright spot in the future and they are committed to working collaboratively on public health issues.”
Landis-Groom maintains her connection with the broader University community by volunteering and she recommends that other alumni do the same. Volunteering, she said, has a happiness effect.
“It makes me happy to give back to a community that was instrumental to my professional and personal development. I have met marvellous people along the way –the program personnel, my fellow mentors, and especially, the mentees.”
“Investing — in whatever way — in your alma mater is an investment in your own career,” said Jennifer Mary Bell, who received her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology in 2013.
“I guess that’s a selfish motivation, and I’m not sure it’s why I got involved, but it is really true that the more successful DLSPH and U of T is, the more highly valued our degrees are. It’s a virtuous circle.”
Bell applied to be on the PHAA board right after graduation, as she wanted to remain connected to the community. She worried that after graduation, she would be out of the “loop” on everything that is going on in the field and within DLSPH. True to form, she developed “In the Loop,” a series of signature events for alumni to keep them abreast of new public health developments with prominent guest speakers, including Tim Caulfield.
“I worked hard to establish the In the Loop speaker’s series when I was the Events Officer on the PHAA, and thanks to a lot of great people, it’s still going strong. So that’s satisfying.”
The field has changed since Bell left university. She is concerned that many of her peers underestimate the role politics plays in public health. Many tend to brush off politics or treat it as a messy business, best ignored.
“To me, you do that at your peril. Recent events in the United States really demonstrate this, but there are loads of examples. I’ve been working in Africa recently and I can tell you, there are huge differences in health outcomes among otherwise similar countries, depending on how they’re governed.”
Congratulations to our alumni!