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Two University of Kentucky College of Public Health (CPH) students were among only 15 students to participate in the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy’s (KyPolicy’s) inaugural Summer Policy Institute (SPI) at Kentucky State University. Students from across the state were selected to explore Kentucky’s top policy issues alongside KyPolicy experts.

The CPH students—Kangai Miriti, who will complete her Masters of Public Health this academic year with a concentration in health management and policy as part of the University Scholars Program, and Ashley Grospitch, a rising senior—stayed at Kentucky State University, the historically Black university in Kentucky’s capital Frankfort, for the four-day conference.

Both students credit their interest in policy to their CPH professors and courses.

“Dr. [Sarah] Vos has been a big influence; she helped me get involved with research on campus and connected me with Dr. [Rachel] Hogg-Graham for the research I’m working on right now. Both of them have really helped me find a specific passion within public health and hone in on policy,” stated Kangai.

Dr. Hogg-Graham and Dr. Vos both encouraged Kangai to apply for the policy institute.

Ashley’s interest in policy came from her CPH courses.

“I felt inspired by Dr. [Angela] Carman’s class, Health of Kentuckians. It reinforced why I want to be in public health, because she really serves her community,” said Ashley. “That's been one of my favorite classes, and I enjoyed talking about health policy. She incorporated all different aspects of public health into her class.”.   

SPI is a mentored experience for students to explore Kentucky’s most pertinent policy issues through seminars, panel discussions and workshops. Each student is placed into a group with an assigned policy and paired with a KyPolicy expert mentor. 

As each group was assigned an overarching topic to tackle, the first step was to find a focus area.

“Being able to work through a huge, broad topic and break it down is essential,” stated Kangai.

Kangai’s group was assigned care economy, the paid and unpaid labor related to caregiving such as childcare, elder care, and domestic chores.

“My group focused on childcare, specifically childcare deserts in Kentucky. My group presented a pilot program of universal preschool, because preschool is very costly and there are not many providers in rural Kentucky,” Kangai said.

Ashley was assigned education funding.

“A lot of people that I'm close to are teachers, and it's interesting to hear them talk about the issues and also to see the government side of it,” she said.

Ashley’s group chose to approach the issue of building infrastructure.

“We chose building infrastructure because it’s something that’s been underfunded for a long time. We broke down that big issue by picking something that we thought was manageable to work with,” stated Ashley.  

Alongside their teammates and mentor, groups analyzed pre-existing policies that were lacking and pitched solutions that would fill in the gaps of their focus area. Their mentors “helped us understand that we can’t fix everything at once, and it does have to be a slow step by step process. That was one of those valuable things that I got out of it,” stated Ashley. On the last day, students presented their policy pitches to KyPolicy and KSU staff as well as local media. 

CPH students left Frankfort with new friendships and appreciation for policy.

“It was cool to come together with so many different people, with all different backgrounds, and work together and learn about policy,” said Kangai. 

SPI encourages college students of all majors to apply.

“I would really recommend this program. I don't think any public health student, or any students, should shy away from it because it’s public policy. I think they did a great job of gearing it toward anyone,” said Ashley.

For more information on the program, visit

Kangai and Ashley serve on the leadership team for the University of Kentucky Student Public Health Association (UKSPHA). Any student at the University of the Kentucky who is interested in public health issues can join regardless of their year in school or specific college they attend. Contact any of the officers via email at to obtain more information. To learn more about the Student Public Health Association, visit or on BBNvolved.

To learn more about our people, programs, and passion for public health, visit