Public health student a stand-out in public health community

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Denna Alnasser

Public health student a stand-out in public health community

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Meet Dean’s Health Hero Denna Alnasser

Denna Alnasser is a dual major in public health and pre-dietetics, with minors in psychology and environmental and occupational health.

She works as an OSU Oregon Center for Health Innovation case investigator and vaccine navigator with the OSU/OHA Surge Bench.

What inspired you to major in public health?

What inspired me to choose a degree in public health is wanting to help prevent diseases, prolong lives and help others achieve a better quality of life. The concept of helping others was always concentrated on in my childhood, as my mom encouraged us to help others and do good.

My overall goal is to help people in achieving optimal health and well-being, no matter who they are or what their background is.

I truly believe that everyone deserves equal treatment and quality of care.

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

I am having an amazing time at OSU. Being born and raised in Corvallis, I always wanted to be a Beaver and part of OSU. I feel blessed to be a student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, as well as a student worker in the OSU-OHA Surge Bench where I work on public health efforts that are usually concentrated on COVID-19 with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Also, being part of many student organizations here at OSU helps me find support and success.

Some individuals who I feel are supporting me or have supported me throughout my time at OSU are my mom, who always provides emotional support when things get really stressful with classes; my brother and sister, who are always there for me; academic advisors at OSU; and the many kind professors and instructors who take the time to meet with me and provide insight about their fields and career exploration.

What challenges have you overcome along your academic journey?

Some challenges that I had to overcome along my academic journey related to classes are taking general chemistry, as well as getting used to the human donors in my anatomy and physiology lab. A challenge that I consider to be the most difficult for me is trying to decide on a major.

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

As a person who strives to help increase diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as provide a sense of belonging and hope to a group of minority students, I am treasurer of the OSU Muslim Student Association (MSA).

Since MSA was not active during COVID-19, I had the pleasure of being part of a bright group of students who re-established the club. Being a Muslim student myself, I know that it is hard to be a minority, but this uneasiness gave me power to help with this great effort.

My position as treasurer allows me to manage club funds, purchase club items, engage in budgeting and ensure that the club is successful.

I also had the opportunity of helping re-establish the Student Public Health Association (SPHA) during my sophomore year. This was a really great opportunity where I worked together with other students who had the same goal as me of promoting health. I was able to become the vice president of SPHA and managed as well as worked on the club’s multiple plans and activities.

Please tell us about your research.

I am not currently involved in any research, but it is my hope to be part of a lab that focuses on a public health research topic that I deem important, such as occupational health.

I am also looking to join a lab in the psychology department to work on a topic that connects both my major in public health and psychology, as I believe both of them are highly intertwined.

What are your post-college dreams?

This is a question that I am usually uncertain of because since day one at OSU, I have been unsure of what kind of career I would like.

As of right now, I would like to potentially get a master’s in public health, specifically environmental and occupational health, via the college’s Accelerated Master‘s Program, where I take graduate classes during the senior year of my bachelor’s degree and then complete one year at the graduate level.

After that, I would like to get a job as an occupational safety specialist, where I will help monitor, train and ensure the safety and health of all employees in a specific work setting. Some settings that I am thinking about are hospitals, universities, large companies in Oregon like Nike, or even an airport.

However, if I go the other route that I have in mind, and choose to instead get a master’s in dietetics, I would like to use my degree to become an oncology dietitian who would help individuals diagnosed with cancer by advising them on what nutritional habits they should be changing and engaging in to hopefully make their quality of life better.

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

Look at the world around you with an open mind, do not judge too quickly, consider the bigger picture, be honest and know that time is limited. Life is short.