OSU student chose to study public health to make big changes in her community

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Carrington Fastelin

OSU student chose to study public health to make big changes in her community

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Meet Health Hero Carrington Fastelin

Fourth-year undergraduate student Carrington Fastelin, from Bend, Ore., was two years into her undergraduate degree when she discovered public health, which she calls “a dream come true.”

A passionate runner, Carrington was chosen because of her service to the Student Public Health Association, OSU Running Club and OSU’s Period Chapter. She is also an academic learning assistant and is currently writing a book about transracial adoption.

What inspired you to choose to study public health?

When I discovered public health, I couldn’t believe it! I had spent the first two years of my college career in exploratory studies and hard sciences majors, never quite feeling like my coursework fully realized the particular strengths or passions I have to serve people in a health care capacity.

Public health was a dream come true for me because it was a subject that I could study and a community that I could be part of that aligned perfectly with everything I am and everything I want to contribute to the world.  

Public health addresses everything I am passionate about: people, human health, environmental health, affordable housing, environmental and social justice, structural racism, inequality, nutrition and more.

I pursued higher education to learn how to make changes to the biggest issues in my community and public health was the best major for me to learn how to make those changes.

Tell us about your time at Oregon State. Is there someone or something who/that has helped you succeed?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was finding community and a sense of belonging at OSU. There have been so, so many people who have helped me find belonging here.

Literally everyone who has ever acknowledged me or made me feel seen, welcomed or made me feel part of a group has significantly helped me in this regard.

But particularly, my freshman year roommate and best friend, Jenna Wiltrout, has been one of my biggest helps and sources of comfort. Also, all of my RA teams.

Another particular person who has helped at OSU has been my Honors College thesis mentor, Tiffany DeRuyter, who is a project coordinator for the OSU Flame Retardants and Home Environments on Children’s School Readiness study for the OSU-Cascades team.  

Similarly, another mentor of mine is Ashley Vaughn, one of the Student Public Health Association advisors and one of my instructors.

Ashley is a life-changing person to know, and I’m sure everyone who knows her would say the same. She is everything you could ever want in a mentor – incredibly inspiring, unbelievably supportive and makes you want to be a better public health student and person just by knowing her and feeling how passionate she is about public health.

In many ways, Ashley has confirmed my desire to study public health because I want to be like her and have an impact like her.

What challenges have you overcome along your academic journey?

The biggest challenges I have had to overcome along my academic journey are determining my major, building community and finding where I belong at OSU, and figuring out how to pay for college on my own.

Do you participate in any campus or community clubs or organizations?

I am the current president of the Student Public Health Association, an academic learning assistant where I help first-year students navigate academic resources at OSU and support them in achieving academic success in Weatherford Hall, the fundraising coordinator of the OSU Running Club, and vice president of public relations for the Period Chapter at OSU.

Woman trail running toward mountain
Carrington runs toward South Sister, a mountain located in Oregon.

Please tell us about your public health research.

I am a research assistant for the OSU Flame Retardants and Home Environments on Children’s School Readiness study.

I am also conducting research and writing an accompanying children’s book for my Honors College thesis answering the question, ‘How do transracial adoptees find and create identity and belonging in a contemporary United States’ culture and context?’

What are your post-college dreams?

Personally, my post-college dreams are to publish my book about transracial adoption and create tools for transracial adoptees to express themselves to their families, travel to as many places as possible and experience as many things as possible, run a lot of marathons, adopt a Great Dane, nurture my relationships and get closer each year to my truest self.

What message do you have for your peers or future students?

My message to my peers and future students is this: You get out what you put in.

I learned this during my first year as a resident assistant when I didn’t think the job was too glamorous, and I didn’t put much effort into my role. After being really miserable, I knew nothing would change unless I changed my attitude and mindset.

So, I invested a ton of energy into being the best RA I could be, and I ended up making the most amazing friendships, having the most incredible experience, and creating a community that actually mattered and had an impact on my residents.  

I try to apply this truth to everything I experience now, whether it be my level of engagement in a specific class, in my relationships or even working a shift at a sandwich shop.

I am always the most fulfilled when I choose to put in the effort. However, not everything warrants 100% of my effort, and I am learning that, too.