MPH Forum Newsletter CSUN Public Health

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors, contributors and/or featured individuals. It does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the MPH Program, Health Sciences Department or CSU Northridge.

Welcome, Master of Public Health (MPH) students, to the spring 2017 semester!This term will bring each of us many new experiences, challenges, memories, and accomplishments. Whether expanding our knowledge through course readings, assignments, and presentations or enhancing our expertise in the field through jobs, internships, and volunteer hours, each and every MPH student at CSUN has insight and perspective worth sharing. The MPH Forum is a collective effort, among both community health education and applied epidemiology MPH students, to facilitate an on-going dialogue about public health in a professional context. Each month will bring a main article on a current event in public health including, but not limited to, on campus MPH news and nationwide health observances along with a calendar of local, upcoming public health events and workshops, in addition to the Spotlight column featuring MPH students, alumni, and other guests. We are excited to present the debut issue of The MPH Forum and cordially invite you to participate. The vision for this newsletter stems from a common interest in disseminating relevant news, information, and opportunities that may be useful for CSUN MPH students as we embark on our unique, yet overlapping, paths through our careers as public health professionals. In pursuing this vision, our hope is to also provide members of the CSUN MPH community the chance to become regular contributors for The MPH Forum. Perhaps you are passionate about an emerging health issue that others should be aware of, or you are an expert on a niche area of public health and would like to shed light on that subject. This newsletter provides an outlet for such individuals to share their knowledge and interests in public health with other similar-minded professionals by writing an article or a column that will be distributed both in print and online. We encourage all MPH students (including members of the Tseng College online cohort!) and alumni to participate in The MPH Forum, whether that means featuring your research or other contributions to the field in the Student Spotlight, or sharing your photos from a recent event for an upcoming article. All contributions are important and will be appreciated by our readers and our community. To get involved, and for all other inquiries, please contact Also, email us to indicate that you would like to be included in our mailing list for job postings and other career opportunities. Thank you for taking the time to read through this newsletter dedicated specifically to current MPH students and alumni. We hope you enjoy!


MPH Forum Editors

"As a graduate from CSUN, I have gained invaluable experiences that have shaped my professional individuality. My experiences and passion in the field of Public Health continued as I pursued my MPH here at my alma mater. Much of my success in the field has been granted from the opportunities and connections I was able to build throughout my time at CSUN. The online MPH program is well-designed, and I feel as though I am part of a traditional classroom. This online cohort format has encouraged the development of relationships with individuals alike while being flexible enough to allow me to work full-time in the healthcare sector. The parallel between what I am learning and being able to apply at work is invaluable. I thank the remarkable faculty and CSUN as a distinguished institution, and I hope to give back one day with a scholarly contribution.” - Ani Hagopian, B.S., CHES MPH Candidate 2017 Community Health Action


Author(s): Chelsea Alexandra Schafer & Araksi Kirakosyan

The Public Health Alumni Chapter hosted its annual MPH speed mentoring event at the University Student Union (USU) East Conference Building on March 8, 2017. Each year, this event provides CSUN students with an opportunity to network with public health professionals in the community to learn more about the mentors, their journeys, and to inquire about challenges and opportunities within the public health field. This year’s event was organized by Health Sciences Faculty Carla Valdez, and it included leaders from various nonprofits, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, private organizations, colleges and universities, and other areas of public health. Several mentors, including CSUN Alumni, from the event are featured below:

Mahbubur Rahman, MS, MPH Training Supervisor Tarzana Treatment Centers, Inc.: Originally starting as an intern in 2005, Mahbubur Rahman transformed his 400-hour academic internship into a full-time position that launched his career at Tarzana Treatment Center. As public health students you, “never know where you’re going to end up,” comments Mahbubur. His recommendation to graduate students is to, “Go to conferences!” It is a great way to network with your peers as well as seasoned and veteran public health professionals.

Amanda Casalegno, MPH, Community Engagement Director, Arthritis Foundation: During her time at CSUN, Amanda Casalegno worked part-time at the YMCA. She gained further experience, as a summer camp counselor, mentoring children and developing healthcare programs aimed for children at the Young & Healthy non-profit organization in Pasadena. Casalegno currently works for the Arthritis Foundation; facilitating lectures, camps, kids’ programs, advocating, and promoting awareness for the Foundation in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Sacramento. Her projects include fundraisers such as the annual Arthritis Walk and a yearly 525-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Sally Khakshooy, MPH, Prenatal Screening Program Coordinator, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: After discovering a passion in maternal, child and fetal health through her internship with Susan G. Komen, Sally Khakshooy was hired full-time as a Department Coordinator for the Department of Public Health in genetic screening for neural tube defects statewide. Her advice to CSUN MPH students is to, “find your niche and have that edge [in a] math and technology background.”

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 2017 Southern California Blood Cancer Conference, Anaheim Marriott, CA

LLS Hosts Blood Cancer Conference

Author: Chelsea Alexandra Schafer

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), held its annual Southern California Blood Cancer Conference on Saturday, March 4, 2017. This event brought together researchers, students, blood cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and their families to learn more about the latest treatment options, support issues and emerging therapies. The future of blood cancer research looks promising as projects receive added funding, foraging partnerships with academic institutions, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development of new therapies.

Nicole Bell, Executive Director for Field Patient Access, welcomed morning attendees with information on LLS Patient Access. “We believe it is crucial to our mission to provide free education and information to all individuals diagnosed with a blood cancer and those who care for them,” said Nicole. The LLS community strives to be an allinclusive, one-stop shop for patient resources while providing the latest blood cancer news and updates.

Program Presentations featured numerous leading researchers from throughout Southern California. Dr. Jerry Lee, Deputy Director for Cancer Research and Technology for Cancer Moonshot Task Force at the White House spoke on advancing innovation and convergence in cancer research. Dr. Lee brought light to the cancer genome atlas, focusing on three cancers – brain, ovarian and lung cancer. He stated that not every patient matches gnomically. Future researchers will need enhanced data coordinating, sampling and handling techniques, along with reproducible data that can be used to influence public policy. Other notable discussions included Advocating for Blood Cancer Patients by Amanda Steffy, voicing the needs for patient access and connecting people with resources. Primary cancers of interest covered at the conference included Adult Acute Leukemias, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, and NonHodgkin Lymphoma, as well as symptoms and side-effects management regarding Fatigue and Chemo Brain; and Pain and Neuropathy.

With over 4,000 participants and counting, LLS community is poised to become an indispensable cancer toolkit, as it pursues research to cure blood cancer. Continued student support is important in pushing forward encouraging cooperation and enhanced data sharing.

Why should you become a part of LLS Community?

GET SUPPORT - LLS community is an outlet to talk with other people directly affected by blood cancers.

GET INFORMED - Gain access to the latest cancer news and updates through professional blogs, summaries of medical publications, and videos featuring top experts from cancer centers around the world.

MAKE AN IMPACT - LLS community features Questions of the Day and surveys designed to capture what matters most to patients. These insights are actively driving the development of support programs and advocacy since traditional research has excluded the patient voice. This is the voice that matters most.

Students interested in a career conducting chronic disease research should consider joining the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Society ( For other information on local blood cancer chapter events, or to get involved with LLC Student Service Learning Opportunities, please visit:

PROFESSOR SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Kathleen Young Examines Universal Health Care in Havana, Cuba

Author: Jonathan Watts

Dr. Kathleen Young is a professor of health sciences who attended a Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) sponsored, people-to-people exchange in Havana called Women’s Health in Cuba. From February 26 – March 5, 2017, she and 13 other medical health professionals collaborated with Cuba’s National School of Public Health (ENSAP) to comprise an all-women delegation who visited over ten Cuban medical sites, including multi-service regional hospitals, clinics, neighborhood-level family doctor’s offices, a maternity hospital, dental school, and comprehensive hospitals to observe and assess the Cuban universal health care system, with a focus on women’s health.

The impetus to Young’s 2017 assessment of Havana was the 2013 Research Infrastructure in Minority Institute (RIMI) scholar project by Young, titled “Comprehensive Breast Health Cancer Screening & Wellness Prevention (Pilot) Program Collaborative”. This pilot program focused on the importance of breast health, breast cancer screening, healthy diet/nutrition, and regular physical activity prevention education across a six-week period with two 90-minute class sessions each week. Thirty 40 to 70-year-old highly motivated Latino women who are low-income, uninsured, and overweight were recruited as participants. The study utilized an experimental design in which one group of randomly-assigned participants received the breast health/breast cancer screening and wellness prevention education program while a second, control group did not participate.

Young’s 2013 pilot study proved to be successful with results showing a significant difference between women who did and did not receive the pilot comprehensive breast cancer screening program. This program has since been replicated in countries, including China and Guatamala, with Botswana and, potentially, Havana, Cuba being the next in line.

During her recent Havana visit, Dr. Young specifically examined Cuba’s current practices and services being offered to women for breast cancer screening and prevention. In addition to discussing and co-creating co-collaboratives in cultural competencies for healthcare practitioners, she also initiated a memorandum of understanding between Havana and Los Angeles healthcare professionals in an effort to create best practices in breast cancer prevention education and comprehensive screening.

After witnessing universal health care, for 10 days, being implemented in Cuba, Dr. Young finds it crucial for students, faculty, and other community members to find their collective voice of activism and health advocacy. She urges, “We need to continue the pursuit of providing people with comprehensive health care and quality services.”


The California State University, Northridge MPH Forum Staff

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