Laura Agnew is a Master of Public Health Candidate from the University at Albany, School of Public health and is concentrating in Health Policy and Management. She will also receive a graduate certificate in Maternal and Child Health as a part of the University at Albany Maternal and Child Health Catalyst Program. Laura has served on the UAlbany School Of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Student Advisory Committee for the past two years and is the Public Relations Chair for the Graduate Student Association for the School of Public Health. In addition to her graduate studies, Laura serves on the Executive Board for the New York State College Health Association as the Student Representative and works part-time as a Graduate Student Assistant for the New York State Department of Health in the Bureau of Marketing and Creative Communications. Before her time at UAlbany, Laura was a part of the initial public health graduating class at Hartwick College and completed an internship in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, where she helped establish the Peer Health Education Program. Laura’s MCH interests include adolescent health promotion, children and adolescents with special healthcare needs, and maternal health education for new and expecting mothers. In her spare time, Laura enjoys attending hockey and baseball games and spending time in the Adirondacks.

I have been able to learn foundational MCH knowledge from our Introduction to Maternal and Child Health course. I focused on Title V and Title X, the MCH Block Grant, MCH Home Visiting Programs, and other common issues throughout the MCH field. This course took a specific focus on Postpartum Depression and the impacts it can have on a child.

Other courses I have taken throughout the Maternal and Child Health Program include Anthropology of Gender, Adolescent Health, Program Development, and Interprofessional Leadership for School and Family Partnerships. Throughout my Anthropology of Gender course, I was able to dive deeper into the cultural and social ties of gender, how gender can impact women’s roles, and how gender is intertwined into the life course. Additionally, I was able to specifically research breastfeeding promotion and gendered parental tasks throughout early childhood. 

Throughout my Adolescent Health course, I was able to better grasp positive youth development and how that can drastically impact one’s trajectory in life. This course focused on specific topics such as youth tobacco use, HPV and other sexually transmitted infections among New York State youth, and youth peer pressure, violence, and gang activity. We were also able to discuss the physical, social, emotional, and mental impacts that COVID-19 had on adolescents. 

During my Program Development Course, I spent the semester working on a Breastfeeding Promotion program to benefit St Peter’s Health Partners and the surrounding New York State Capital Region.

Finally, throughout my Interprofessional Leadership for School and Community Partnerships course, I was able to gain a better understanding of the importance of community partnerships and how public health professionals can better collaborate with those in the school community. Examples include school administrators, educators, social workers, individuals in public policy/administration, and other professionals to serve our priority populations better. 

In addition to my course work surrounding Maternal and Child Health, I have also had the privilege of getting real-world experience in the MCH field. I am currently serving on the University at Albany, School of Public Health MCH Student Advisory Committee. Throughout this role, I have served as an ambassador for the program, attend monthly planning meetings for the program, and collaborate with the Graduate Student Organization to co-sponsor events and programs related to MCH. An example of such an event was a OneLove Escalation Training that I was able to facilitate. Throughout this role, I have also been able to network with other current students, faculty, staff, and alumni working in MCH.

In my time at the University at Albany, School of Public Health, I have also had the privilege to be a part of two internships relating to Maternal and Child Health. I completed my first internship with the New York State Council of Children and Families (NYSCCF), where I assisted with enhancements to the NYS Parent Portal and their mobile app, which can be accessed through the Apple Store here. If you are an Andriod user, click here. The NYS Patent Portal is family-centered and highlights the importance of parental education and involvement.

In addition to these tasks, I assisted with the Talking is Teaching campaign and NYS Baby Bundle webinar, analyzed data from the NYS KWIC Indicator, and completed a policy analysis of NYS Executive Order 202.37. I also hosted three NYS Parent Portal Partner Meetings with our cross-agency partners. These meetings focused on social media promotion of the NYS Child Care, After School and Home Visiting Locator, NYS Parent Guide, NYS Multiple Systems Navigator, and the NYS Every Student Present Campaign

Currently, I am completing my second internship at the New York State Department of Health in the Division of Family Health, Bureau of Women, Children and Adolescent Health, where I am evaluating telehealth services for family planning and reproductive health. I will also be reviewing annual and quarterly reports from New York State Family Planning Partnership providers regarding telehealth usage, in addition to a survey to understand provider attitudes in regards to telehealth.

Overall, my experiences from the University at Albany, School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Program have provided me with a vast understanding of MCH issues. These experiences have allowed me to apply my skills and knowledge throughout my internships and beyond. 

Funding provided by the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health at the University of Minnesota and the University at Albany School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Public Health Catalyst Program, which are supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This information or content and conclusions of related outreach products are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.