Lab Matters Fall 2023 | Page 8


APHL 2023 , In Their Own Words

By Rudolph Nowak , MPH , senior specialist , Marketing & Communications
Fellowship flowed and friendships formed during APHL 2023 . One hundred and twenty Public Health Laboratory Fellowship Program participants gathered in Sacramento , CA for five days of professional and personal development . For some fellows , the conference was the biggest event of their fellowship , for others it was a steppingstone for their future endeavors or another experience in their public health careers . They took advantage of opportunities to meet , network and celebrate their accomplishments with their cohort and others in the public health community . They might have had a little fun , too .
What did you gain from the Fellowship preconference gathering ?
“ Food safety and newborn screening are pretty small programs . I didn ’ t know how few of us there were . So , we were small enough to all introduce ourselves easily .”
Faith Weber , Food Safety Fellow , Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services
“ This was the first opportunity I got to meet people from different programs , see what they did and learn about other projects .”
What was your experience with your cohort before the conference ?
Amna Elbadawi , Infectious Disease Fellow , Public Health Laboratory of East Texas
“ I think it was great seeing everybody — even people in your own cohort . I ’ m an infectious disease fellow and it ’ s one of the biggest cohorts , but it was interesting just discussing everyone ’ s scientific point of view . Especially the PhD- and master ’ s- level fellows who acted as mentors at times .”
“ We have a fellows ’ GroupMe , so throughout the year if things came up or if the Fellowship Team released information , we were able to help each other out by passing that ( information ) along . But it was cool to meet people in person because obviously you ’ re just kind of all numbers on paper until you see how many ( fellows ) there are .”
Faith Weber
What was the highlight from the preconference presentations ?
“[ Marisa Hattab , Douglas County , Nebraska DEI Officer ] talked about how we should grow our social and professional circles for people who we can count on [ for support ]. That ’ s something I never really thought about .”
Amna Elbadawi
Were you surprised by anything at or during the conference ?
“ I did not meet a fellow I didn ’ t like , and I think that it is very uncommon where you meet a large group of colleagues , and you get along with all of them . It was incredibly fun , very friendly , a wonderful cohort .”
James Zumhagen , Biorisk Management Fellow , Missouri State Public Health Laboratory
“ The sessions were able to address lessthan-fun topics in an engaging way , and I was surprised by that . But that did make it more fun .”
Whitney Heard
“ Outside of the conference , it was fun getting to network off the grid . I met up with the director of our laboratory and a couple other directors . I wasn ’ t expecting to do that with a bunch of directors as a fellow . But it was cool to talk to them and they asked how I became a fellow , my background , and then also about playing college softball .”
Faith Weber g
Whitney Heard , Infectious Disease Fellow , Alabama Department of Health , Bureau of Clinical Laboratories
6 LAB MATTERS Fall 2023
PublicHealthLabs @ APHL APHL . org