Rudin Scholars in Public Health

On Monday, April 25, 2022, the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) community and representatives from the Rudin foundations came together to celebrate this year’s cohort of Rudin Scholars. Through the generosity of the Louis and Rachel Rudin Foundation and May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, nearly 700 students have benefited from an extraordinary education at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, School of Nursing, and the Programs in Occupational Therapy.

The Rudin Scholars Program honors scholarship of the highest potential and is a vital part of CUIMC’s financial aid effort. Through their support of the best students in the nation, the Rudin foundations bolster CUIMC’s financial aid network and make an internationally renowned education accessible for the brightest applicants. This unyielding support ultimately leads to improved treatment and an enhanced quality of life for patients locally, in New York City, and globally.

The Rudin Scholarship in Public Health honors MPH students based on high academic achievement. This year’s Scholars are Amani Altell, MPH ’23, Krystal Chavez, MPH ’23, Julia Francis, MPH ’23, and Charity Ogunlusi, MPH ’23. We are so proud of their commitment and demonstrated academic excellence while navigating the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the public health leaders of tomorrow.

Amani Altell, MPH ’23

Degree Program: MPH, Population and Family Health

Previous Education: BS, Public Health, University of Massachusetts
Hometown: Hebron, Palestine

As an undergraduate student, Amani Altell, MPH’23, always wanted to dive deeper into public health. When she read about the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia Mailman, she knew instantly that she wanted to learn more about it by pursuing her master’s degree. Throughout her first year, her most meaningful academic experience has been the opportunity to participate in diverse coursework, seminars, and webinars at the School. She has also been involved with Muslim Students for Health Equity—a student organization that provides a community space for Muslim students (and allies) to discuss relevant health and health equity issues and promotes civic engagement within members—as well as the Humanitarian Organization for Migration and Emergencies (HOME), which provides opportunities for students to gain skills and experience that will improve the health and well-being of conflict-affected populations. 

After graduation, Amani hopes to continue working in public health in the Middle East and North Africa regions. She’s also considering the pursuit of her PhD in the future.

Krystal Chavez, MPH ’23

Degree Program: MPH, Health Policy and Management  
Certificate: Health Policy Analysis  

Previous Education: BS, Policy Planning and Development, University of Southern California
Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Krystal Chavez, MPH ’23 is a first-generation college student, who growing up was filled with uncertainties about how to navigate college. But, once she discovered health care management, she knew that she was passionate about advocating for health. Following her undergraduate studies, she moved forward in her public health career. For the past three years, she has worked to expand digital health access with one of the world's premier hubs of technology, excellence, and health transformation at Stanford Children's Health. She is excited about her path forward both at Columbia Mailman and within the public health field. She shares that she has thoroughly enjoyed her CORE classes, and that this “crash course” within the healthcare system has allowed her to appreciate the intersectionality of global health, health systems, and ethics. She is currently involved with Columbia Healthcare Ventures, a student organization dedicated to promoting innovation within healthcare. She is also applying to be a teaching assistant for next year’s courses.

Following graduation, Krystal hopes to further explore her passion for access to healthcare and technology. She will complete her practicum at CVS Health within their pharmacy and growth innovation team, and she is hopeful that this will lead to full-time employment. She is also interested in exploring opportunities within health tech startups.

Julia Francis, MPH ’23

Degree Program: MPH, Epidemiology
Certificate: Molecular Epidemiology

Previous Education: BS, Public Health Science, University of Maryland College Park
Hometown: Germantown, Maryland

Julia Francis, MPH ’23 has always had an interest in the health sciences, which led her to study public health science as an undergraduate. After taking various courses, she developed a strong interest in infectious disease and environmental epidemiology. When she was ready to apply for master’s programs, Columbia Mailman stood out to her due to their certificate programs and faculty members. Her most meaningful experience thus far has been her ability to explore her interests through her coursework. She has found that the faculty are open about their journeys, failures and successes in the field, and as such, she has the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and be inspired by their journeys and accomplishments. Julia is also proud to share that she recently became the president of Students for One Health. The organization’s mission is to raise awareness and promote optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.

Julia’s goal after graduation is to pursue a career as an environmental epidemiologist. She hopes to work for the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and plans to earn her doctorate degree.

Charity Ogunlusi, MPH ’23

Degree Program: MPH, Environmental Health Sciences
Certificate: Infectious Diseases Epidemiology

Previous Education: MBBS, Medicine and Surgery, Delta State University, Nigeria
Hometown: Delta State, Nigeria

Charity Ogunlusi, MPH ’23 has always had a passion for helping others, and this desire led her to earn a medical degree in Nigeria. During her undergraduate and early postgraduate years, she organized and participated in a number of free medical outreaches to rural communities to provide clinical care and create awareness on the prevention and control of public health diseases and challenges. In the course of her clinical practice and voluntary community service, she witnessed firsthand numerous public health challenges, poor health systems, the exorbitant cost of health care, and physician burnout. She realized at that moment that she could not stand on the sidelines, merely wishing for change, but instead wanted to be at the forefront of affecting the necessary changes. She decided to pursue an MPH degree at Columbia Mailman, so that she could acquire the skills and knowledge needed to help solve health-related problems holistically in any setting and subsequently, manage organizations that will create lasting policies or deliver public health services in the future.

Following graduation, Charity’s goal is to become an environmental epidemiologist. She aspires to work with epidemiological data and studies on environmental hazards and health effects, provide intervention strategies, and improve surveillance. After this, she hopes to further her career in medicine and clinical practice with a focus on public health.

Congratulations again to Amani, Krystal, Julia, and Charity! We are so proud of your achievements during your first year at Columbia Mailman and look forward to seeing all that you accomplish next year, and throughout your careers.

To support students like Amani, Krystal, Julia, and Charity, please consider making a gift to the Columbia Mailman Scholarship in Public Health: