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NMSU graduate student wins public health scholarship to attend national conference

Release Date: 20 Oct 2022
NMSU graduate student wins public health scholarship to attend national conference

Lindsay Keeling, a graduate student at New Mexico State University, has received the 2022 21st Century Student Scholarship from the Society for Public Health Education, or SOPHE.

The scholarship will pay for Keeling, who is pursuing two master’s degrees in public health and social work, to attend SOPHE’s 24th annual Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 22-24. The summit will feature several educational tracks centered on youth health equity, including antiracism and youth health, youth LGBTQIA+ sexual and reproductive health, youth mental health, and misinformation in youth health.

“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to see top public health professionals present their research on youth health equity and participate in a unique opportunity to address anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation during a visit to Capitol Hill,” Keeling said. “I hope to broaden my horizons to understand more about the diversity in the field of public health and serve as an advocate and resource person.”

Following the summit, Keeling will work with a national SOPHE-sponsored committee or task force for one year. It is the second scholarship Keeling has received from SOPHE since last year. She also received the organization’s Student Fellowship in Injury Prevention in 2021.

Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of public health sciences at NMSU, nominated Keeling for both scholarships. Khubchandani said the latest award gives Keeling a unique opportunity to learn about public health practice and advocacy.

“The pandemic has shown us the importance of training future public health practitioners in policy and advocacy. Lindsay will be able to gain critical skills on these topics,” he said. “NMSU consistently excels in graduate studies. Lindsay’s scholarship is living evidence for the quality of graduate student teaching and research experiences provided by NMSU.”

Keeling came to NMSU in 2020 after finishing a two-year stint in Kosovo with Peace Corps. Originally from Texas, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a writer for seven years before joining Peace Corps.

“I loved writing, but I didn’t feel like I was making an impact,” she said. “I wanted to do something that was more direct service, and so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do Peace Corps, where I worked with people directly and had an impact on people’s lives.”

Through Peace Corps, Keeling discovered NMSU and its dual master’s program in social work and public health. It was one of several programs she applied to after deciding to pursue graduate studies.

“When I was in Peace Corps, I saw a lot of health disparities, and that got me interested in public health,” she said.

Keeling currently works as a graduate assistant for two NMSU faculty members, Anna Nelson and Christopher Brown, with whom she conducts research on higher education experiences for students from the LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous and people-of-color communities.

She is currently assisting a project that aims to reignite interest in borderlands health and research on the border. She has also worked with Khubchandani on a study examining adverse childhood experiences, substance use and suicidal behaviors.

“With the training at the summit, I hope to continue to be the voice of the marginalized and disadvantaged members of our communities,” she said.

Keeling, who expects to graduate in spring 2023, said she’d like to work in public health at the local level after earning her master’s degrees.

“The opportunities afforded to me at NMSU through the Department of Public Health Sciences, the School of Social Work, and the invaluable mentorship and supervision of faculty are shaping my career goals and interests in significant and critical ways,” she said.

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