WCU environmental health seniors receive awards from U.S. Public Health Service

Emylee Prevette (left) and Carla Catalan (third from left), seniors majoring in environmental health at Western Carolina University, receive Public Health Service citations from Cmdr. Don Williams (second from left), a WCU alumnus who acted as their mentor, and Capt. Craig Shepherd (right), who is chief of the Public Health Service environmental health branch. Catalan and Prevette are two of three WCU students to receive awards for exceptional performance as active duty officers in the Commissioned Officer Student Training Extern Program for the U.S. Public Health Service.

Emylee Prevette (left) and Carla Catalan (third from left), seniors majoring in environmental health at Western Carolina University, receive Public Health Service citations from Cmdr. Don Williams (second from left), a WCU alumnus who acted as their mentor, and Capt. Craig Shepherd (right), who is chief of the Public Health Service environmental health branch. Catalan and Prevette are two of three WCU students to receive awards for exceptional performance as active duty officers in the Commissioned Officer Student Training Extern Program for the U.S. Public Health Service.

Three Western Carolina University students recently received citations for their internship work with the U.S. Public Health Service during the summer.

The students are Carla Catalan, Amy Jackson and Emylee Prevette, environmental health seniors at WCU.  All three students interned as active duty officers in the Commissioned Officer Student Training Extern Program during the summer months, and upon graduation, they can apply for full-time active duty in a career with the Public Health Service.

Catalan, from Winston-Salem, interned in Tucson, Ariz., where she vaccinated more than 1,000 dogs and cats and created a database with information such as owners’ names and rabies identification numbers. Catalan’s minor in Spanish helped her interpret a test for food handlers so those who speak Spanish would be able to take the test. She also participated in conducting several health inspections on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation and the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation. She received a Public Health Service citation. Catalan graduated from Forsyth High School in 2004, and her mother is Maria Cabell.

“Sitting in a classroom, sometimes I forget that there are people in the world, in our own country, that have not had the opportunities I have been blessed with,” said Catalan. “Being in Arizona served as a strong reminder that there are still people and animals that need help.”

Jackson, from Morganton, developed a marketing tool to promote the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s cooperative agreement program during her internship in Atlanta, Ga. She received an award for outstanding performance in the agency’s student training and extern program. Jackson graduated from Freedom High School in 1996, and her mother is Wanda Largent and her children are Alayna and Josiah Jackson.

“I was very excited to work at a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Jackson said. “I enjoyed being part of such an important government agency.  My mentors and preceptor at ATSDR are all considered to be the best of the best.  I am honored to have worked with them this summer.”

Prevette, from Hamptonville, also interned in Tucson, Ariz., and worked on a variety of projects, including food surveys, food handlers’ training classes, rabies clinics, mercury monitoring and mosquito collection for West Nile virus testing. She received a Public Health Service citation. Prevette graduated from Starmount High School in 2004, and her parents are Kyle and Cynthia Prevette.

“Not only was the internship beneficial in a professional sense, it also was a wonderful experience in terms of personal growth,” said Prevette. “I am thankful for all the guidance I have received from my professors at Western, my mentors in the USPHS, and most of all, the continuous support and encouragement of my family.”

Cmdr. Don Williams of the U.S. Public Health Services, a WCU alumnus who acted as a mentor for Catalan and Prevette, said the WCU students performed valuable services. “The database to track animals vaccinated for rabies has saved several persons from having to undergo the series of rabies shots required if the animal cannot be found, and it also has reunited lost pets with their owners,” Williams said. “I felt their contributions warranted the award.”

WCU environmental health students have a unique opportunity to become Public Health Service officers, said Williams. The environmental health category only accepts students from accredited programs, and the WCU program has been accredited since the 1980s. There are only 29 accredited programs nationwide.

For more information about WCU’s environmental health sciences program, contact Burton Ogle by phone at (828) 227-3527 or by e-mail at bogle@email.wcu.edu.

Amy Jackson, an environmental health sciences senior at Western Carolina University, receives an award for outstanding performance in the Public Health Service’s student training and extern program from Cmdr. Alan Parham, a WCU alumnus who acted as her mentor for her internship work this summer. Jackson is one of three WCU students to receive an award for exceptional performance as an active duty officer in the Commissioned Officer Student Training Extern Program for the U.S. Public Health Service.

Amy Jackson, an environmental health sciences senior at Western Carolina University, receives an award for outstanding performance in the Public Health Service’s student training and extern program from Cmdr. Alan Parham, a WCU alumnus who acted as her mentor for her internship work this summer. Jackson is one of three WCU students to receive an award for exceptional performance as an active duty officer in the Commissioned Officer Student Training Extern Program for the U.S. Public Health Service.