Honor Your Professor

Good teaching makes all the difference. Alumni honor the faculty and staff who have had a profound impact on their education through gifts to the Columbia Mailman Scholarship in Public Health (formerly the Fund for Public Health Leadership). Below are just a few of the many tributes by graduates of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

I was deeply impacted by my class with Lowell Bellin, the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Health. He was a fascinating speaker, and gave us a look at the type of issues you really face in the working world. He had the combination of great knowledge and presentation skills. He was a star.

 Michael Fassler, MBA ’76, MPH ‘77

I took two classes with Helen-Maria Lekas in Sociomedical Sciences, and she has had a tremendous impact on my life. Her teaching was amazing, and she had a genuine love for public health. As students, we could see her passion, and it inspired us. She provided substantial guidance in my current journey, helping me to focus the direction of my career. Dr. Lekas is an amazing individual and an amazing professor. I thank her very much.

 Toddchelle Young, MPH ‘14

Some of my fondest memories are with Lynn Collins. In addition to being brilliant, she taught me about the kind of person and mom I want to be. She is so passionate about global health, and she is so generous with her time and great about opening doors for students. Lynn taught me a lot in the classroom. And I also learned from shadowing her at the United Nations and spending time with her at the International AIDS Conferences.

 Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, MPH ’12

Paul Brandt-Rauf was my professor and advisor when I was in School for my MPH. My major was the occupational medicine track in Environmental Health Sciences, and Dr. Brandt-Rauf taught me how to think 360 degrees and include the ethics of occupational surveillance and subsequent job placement. Further, he taught the importance of and the 'how to' of writing an executive summary when presenting an idea or report so that it will be read, with the understanding that the first lines and last lines are the most important.

 Kathleen Crowley  PA-C, MPH ’91, DrPH ‘13

Simply put: Ana F. Abraido-Lanza and Patrick A. Wilson of the Sociomedical Sciences Department are amazing! Ana always makes time for her students by maintaining an open door policy—which is inclusive of warm smiles and big hugs. She has fostered a trajectory of research that works towards eliminating health disparities among ethnoracial minority communities. More so, her tireless commitment to increase diversity among our nation's scientific workforce is made evident through her ongoing leadership with the NIGMS-funded Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, which provides financial support and mentorship to historically underrepresented students who receive doctoral training in public health—without which I may have never completed my doctoral work. Speaking of which, it is because of the continuous encouragement, guidance, and support of my dissertation sponsor, Patrick, that I was able to successfully move out of Columbia and progress into my postdoctoral career. He did so much more than simply help guide me through administrative processes while I was on 168th street; he spent a great amount of time strategizing next moves, writing letters of recommendation, clarifying funding mechanisms, and connecting me to academic leaders in the HIV research field. Because of his efforts teaching me the ropes of academia (i.e. everything that isn’t taught in class), I was able to propel myself forward into the professional stages of my career. I am truly grateful for all the insights, perspectives and time that these two professors invested in me through the years.

 Gabriel R. Galindo, DrPH ‘09

Peter Muennig is one of my public health heroes. Peter has received prestigious awards, bikes to Washington Heights, and knows where to find the best hand-pulled noodles in Manhattan. Yet, he remains incredibly humble. To work in health policy in Washington, D.C., you have to know how to write about policy in a powerful and concise way. Peter taught me that, as well as the impact of social determinants of health internationally. After Mailman, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as a fellow on Capitol Hill. Peter was definitely a key mentor and professor in preparing me for that work.

 Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, MPH ’12

There are so many professors who inspired me! Here are a few in no particular order: Tom Ference, a professor at heart; Kim Isett, who gave me the foundation of management, Michael Sparer, an amazing teacher, and Alan Weinberg, who was able to make stats humorous and fun.

 Dr. Anette Wu, MD, MPH ‘08

There are two professors who stand out to me: Therese McGinn and Sharon Schwartz. I took Program Design with McGinn and found it an engaging and invigorating course. She provided a framework for creating and evaluating programs. The detail that we were expected to think through regarding programs during the course was real and provided great groundwork for my career in program design and management. Sharon Schwartz simply made epidemiology interesting! Her energy and patience helped me, not a natural at Epi, to understand a complex subject, and moreover, to enjoy it!

 Maureen Malave, MPH ‘02

I would like to honor Rachel Saab. I will never forget that friendly face and smile that greeted me each time I walked into the Health Policy and Management department. For myself and so many other Health Policy and Management students, you were the department cheerleader that, no matter what issue, was always willing to help us out. 

 Carlos Cuevas, MPH ‘12

Lawrence Brown and Thomas Ference have my lasting gratitude. The time they spent with me had a real and lasting impact, and I will always be grateful.

 Elena Tobin, MPH ‘07

In honor of two biostatistics professors who care: Martina Pavlicova and John L. P. (Seamus) Thompson.

 Gabrielle Bau, MPH ‘15

I salute Ron Bayer, PhD, whose mastery of ethics and HIV kept my head spinning.  He has a remarkable ability to ask penetrating questions and keep students on their toes. I loved the rapid give-and-take in his classroom and totally enjoyed my immersion in Private Acts, Social Consequences: AIDS and the Politics of Public Health. I was delighted when he agreed to serve on my dissertation committee and benefited greatly from his input. I also remember fondly a couple of out-of-the-classroom interactions—the time when I bumped into him on the #1 train up to campus while he was meditating (the idea of engaging in contemplation and introspection while being conveyed in a screeching iron chariot was a bit of a contradiction in terms but, perhaps, reflective of New Yorkers’ ability to adapt to chaos) and the time when he gave me a hug on 168th Street after reading my father’s obituary in the New York Times. A warm and very much appreciated gesture, indeed. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for Columbia!

 Nina Rothschild, MPH ’92, DrPH ‘00

I am deeply grateful to Cheryl Keise and the team in Admissions. I didn't follow a traditional path to Mailman, and I didn't always have the same vision on how to go about my Mailman training, but your team believed in me, worked with me, and helped make the most of my experience. Your support made all the difference and I will always remember the encouragement.

 Carlos Cuevas, MPH ‘12

Professor Paul Thurman, you are the first professor who I felt inclined to take any course you were teaching (no matter the subject), because I knew two things: 1) that you were going to push me to learn the material and 2) that you would make the material interesting and applicable. I took a range of courses across multiple Columbia schools (and even dealt with the hassle of cross-registering) just to be in your class. I will never forget the lecture you gave during the final session of your statistics course. It was the last course of my graduate career and you gave the class these redacted files from a "real-life case" and asked us to make a decision using the statistical analysis skills we had learned during the semester. I was blown away when you revealed that we were reviewing some of the files that the NASA team used to determine whether or not to launch the Challenger space shuttle. You told the class that our Columbia degrees would give us access to opportunities to change the world, but to remember that the decisions we made in positions of leadership would have real implications on people’s lives. Today, I am a policymaker and I think about that lecture very often as I have to analyze information and make decisions that impact the lives of millions of Americans. Thank you for instilling the knowledge and humility to help take on some of the challenges our world faces today."'

 Carlos Cuevas, MPH ‘12

Other Faculty and Staff who were recognized:

  • Dr. Helena Duch was honored by Ms. Marisa Kleinman '15
  • Dr. John Fertig was remembered with a gift by Dr. Katherine D. Freeman-Costin ‘82
  • Dr. Joe Fleiss was remembered with a gift by Dr. Katherine D. Freeman-Costin ‘82
  • Dr. Greg Freyer was honored with a gift by Ms. Annie Chow ‘09
  • Dr. Anna Gelman was honored with a gift by Dr. Holger Hansen '67, '73
  • Dr. Jeff Goldsmith was honored with a gift by Ms. Yao Ma ‘15
  • Dr. Kim Hopper was honored with a gift by Ms. Marisa Kleinman '15
  • Dr. Marita Murrman was honored with a gift by Alexandra Zenoff ‘15
  • Dr. Constance Nathanson was honored with a gift by Ms. Sonia Alam ‘10
  • Dr. Alan Rosenfield was honored with a gift by Ms. Christina Pawlowski Canning '92