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Graduate public health students become ‘change agents' during visits with Alabama lawmakers

April 16, 2019

Anissa L. Riley, Office of External Affairs, College of Veterinary Medicine
Crystal James, JD, Department of Graduate Public Heath, College of Veterinary Medicine


Graduate Public health students visit State Senator Tom Whatley in his office
Graduate Public health group is greeted by State Senator
Tom Whatley (3rd from left) of House District 27

Dr. Fredrick D. Patterson, Tuskegee University’s third president and founder of its veterinary program, once said: “Change agents are critical links to enable a community to grow, be healthy and make a positive contribution to America. Their road is often rocky, but they are sustained by their training and commitment to make the world a better place in which to live.”

Students in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Graduate Public Health recently accepted Patterson’s challenge to be those change agents by partnering with their peers and visiting lawmakers on April 2 for the opening session of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network Day at the State Capitol in Montgomery.

In support of its goal of “Excellence in Service Learning L-RISE” — or Leadership, Research, Innovative Teaching, Service Learning and Ethics — the department partnered with the American Cancer Society to educate state legislators on critical issues faced by cancer survivors, which include translation of research findings to public health interventions. The group’s discussions included Sen. William Beasley (Senate District 28, which includes Macon County), Rep. Scott Stadthagen (House District 9), and Sen. Tom Whatley (Senate District 27).

Sarah Domm, Alabama grassroots manager, served as co-chair of the proceedings for the day.  American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network participants who joined Tuskegee as members of Working Group 9 included Debbie Davis, Norman Davis, and Dimple Davis, who serves as a long-standing member of the group and its leader.

Tuskegee soon-to-be-graduating master of public health students Oyoyo Egiebor-Aiwan and Samina Akhter, as well as Dr. Lloyd Webb, a professor of public health who led the university delegation, were among the cancer advocates walking the halls of the Alabama State House to encourage elected officials to make cancer support in Alabama a priority.

Professor Webb is greeted during luncheon at State House by Congressman Scott Stadthagen, State of Alabama Representative for House District 9.
Professor Webb is greeted at State House by Congressman Scott
Stadthagen, State of Alabama Representative for House District 9.

“As public health change makers soon to enter the workplace, the students experienced the thrill of having their voices heard by visiting officials in their offices and educating them on the impact of critical legislation to support cancer research and services,” said Atty. Crystal James, department head for the college’s public health program.

“The Department of Public Health faculty and staff, under the leadership of Atty. James, are doing an excellent job in preparing our students to be change agents,” added Dr. Ruby L. Perry, the college’s dean. “They are providing the mentorship needed to get our students ready to be career-ready advocates for this healthcare discipline, which mandates a responsibility to saving lives by spreading awareness, assisting in disease prevention and disease control, and building a healthy society.”

In addition to speaking with lawmakers, students met with several cancer survivors who shared their stories, as well as with executive members of the Cancer Action Network and staff of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

For more information about the graduate public health program, visit

About Tuskegee’s Graduate Public Health Program

The mission of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine’s graduate program in public health is to prepare public health professionals to draw on the knowledge and skills of a number of disciplines to define, assess critically, resolve public health problems, and promote populations health. The program of study develops core competencies in multiple areas, including the quantitative sciences, health services administration, biological, social, behavioral and environmental sciences, ethics, health policy and law.

About the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ASC CAN),

Alabama volunteers, staff and advocates for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network fight cancer by encouraging decision makers to support laws and policies like sustained investments in cancer research, stronger tobacco-control efforts, improved access to care, and better quality of life for patients. Learn more at


Public Health group is greeted by Sarah Dormm, Alabama grassroots manager
Tuskegee University Department of Graduate Public Health participants met with Sarah Domm, Alabama grassroots manager
and co-chair of the proceedings for the opening session of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Day at the Capitol.
(left to right): Sarah Domm, Oyoyo Egiebor-Aiwan, Samina Akhter, Professor Lloyd Webb and working group 9 leader Dimple Davis.

© 2019, Tuskegee University