Monday, February 13, 2017

Capstone 2016 – Deborah Manst

Presented December 9, 2016, Deborah Manst’s Capstone project addressed the magnitude, risk factors and impact of food insecurity. Through three pronged idea derived from a pilot study done in Hartford, Connecticut, Deborah’s Freshplace model combines a food pantry with motivational interviewing and increased access to resources to address the issue.

Food insecurity is defined as the inability to obtain enough nutritious food for a healthy and active lifestyle. Affecting 48 million Americans, risk factors include unemployment, poverty and limited access (such as living in a food desert or limited transportation). Food insecurity is linked to many chronic and mental health conditions. Communities all across the country bear the burden of the negative consequences of this issue.

Even though DuPage County is considered the healthiest in Illinois, 8% of the population is food insecure. Deborah’s Freshplace concept would help close the gap and ensure that the disadvantaged population has access to fresh produce, gains confidence with healthy diet information and feels empowered by professionals trained to build self-confidence. Freshplace is a relatively simple program that could have wide-spread benefits to participating individuals and families that extend to the broader community.

In addition to earning her MPH from Loyola University Chicago, Deborah holds a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MA in Medical Sciences from Loyola University Chicago and an MD from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Learn more about Deborah’s Capstone experience.  

Why did you choose to pursue an MPH? 

Prior to starting the MPH program, I went to medical school and residency, but for personal reasons took some time away from medicine. In looking for what to do next, I decided that getting an MPH was in line with my nature to help people. I felt that improving community wellness on a broader scale would be a great way to utilize and further my skills. I appreciate Loyola’s humanistic approach to learning. Having completed my previous graduate and medical programs at Loyola, it was a clear choice for me to return to Loyola. Since I thrive on interacting with people and have strong leadership skills, I entered the policy and management track.

What led you to your topic?  

During my internship at the DuPage Federation on Human Services Reform, a public service organization, I became aware of the problem of food insecurity—a significant issue in which impoverished people are unable to obtain enough healthy food. I visited the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Naperville Loaves & Fishes food pantry to better understand the magnitude of the issue. This inspired me to work on a capstone addressing food insecurity in DuPage County.

What was your biggest accomplishment while in the program?

I was selected for one of four public health graduate study scholarships from the Illinois Public Health Association and traveled to Springfield, IL to accept the award!

Where are you headed with your career? 

At this time, I am seeking employment in Chicagoland with a public health organization focused on community wellness. I plan to continue in a position where I can make a difference in public health, and may possibly re-enter the medical field to directly apply what I have learned in the MPH program to treating patients. 

A student’s Capstone project is a professional presentation, which demonstrates his/her ability to apply the program learning to a specific public health topic. Selected by the student, the project reflects a culmination of the course curriculum, field experience and independent study. This experience helps students explore their academic passions while preparing them for a competitive job market.

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