Skip to main
University-wide Navigation

This past year was rewarding on multiple fronts for the University of Kentucky Student Public Health Association (UKSPHA), as the organization hosted multiple events and received several awards.

The UKSPHA was honored with the Kentucky Public Health Association (KPHA) Student Engagement Award and the Lead Blue Sense of Belonging Student Group Award from the UK Office of Student Organizations and Activities.  

Sami Jones, UKSPHA Community Service Chair, said receiving the “Sense of Belonging” award was significant on multiple levels. The award is given to a student organization that demonstrates an active commitment to creating welcoming and connected environments through programming to foster a sense of community and belonging on campus among students.

“It validates the importance and impact of our association's efforts in fostering inclusivity and community within our university’s environment,” said Jones. “It signified that our association has successfully created a space where students from diverse backgrounds feel welcomed, supported, and valued. It also indicates that we, as a student organization, have gone above and beyond to create a supportive network where students feel connected, understood, and empowered to thrive not just academically but also personally. Winning this award has sent a powerful message that inclusivity is not just a buzzword but a lived reality within our organization, setting a positive example for other student groups and institutions to follow.”

It was the second straight year UKSPHA has been honored with the KPHA Student Engagement Award.  

“It felt great getting recognized for all of our work and definitely was a motivator finishing out the year,” said Julia Kollitz, UKSPHA President. “I think that it showed that what we did this year mattered, which is always valuable.”

Anna Hallahan also was recognized at the KPHA event for her work as the organization's advisor.

Several members were able to attend the award ceremony and the KPHA’s annual conference. Kollitz said it was nice to meet KPHA members and learn more about their work.

“In my opinion, being there also made the award feel more impactful because we got to see and interact with KPHA members,” she said. “I think that attending the ceremony was a great experience, and we are motivated to continue working hard so that we can attend next year as well.”

Additionally, the UKSPHA was officially recognized as the University of Kentucky’s Student Health Public Health Association.

“Receiving the official title of UKSPHA is extremely rewarding,” said Ashley Grospitch, Communications Chair of UKSPHA. “It reaffirms everything we have been working for as an organization over the last few years—promoting public health values in our community and spreading awareness of public health as a profession to students. We cannot wait to continue this work under the official title.”

UKSPHA also hosted a variety of events and service projects for members, including a Valentine’s Day card drive for children at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Jones said the turnout for the card drive was the organization’s largest for a community service project this past year.

“To see our students so passionate about bettering our local community truly warmed my heart,” she said. “Getting involved within the local Lexington community was extremely important to my cultivation of the Community Service Chair position. Without networks formed within our surrounding community, UKSPHA would have limited outreach and engagement opportunities so being able to make those connections is integral to ensuring that people remain engaged in public health measures.”

UKSPHA welcomed several speakers from different public health fields, including maternal and child health, epidemiology, environmental health to expose students in public health or those interested in the field to opportunities to network and learn more about a specialization through a professional’s perspective.

Multiple social events were also held to help create community, and UKSPHA partnered with Campus Kitchen to use rescued food to cook meals for a Lexington nursing home.

“This was an extremely rewarding experience because we got the opportunity to work with another student-led organization to promote the importance of nutrition and sustainable food systems in public health,” said Grospitch.

Students of any level, undergraduate or graduate, are welcome to be part of UKSPHA.

“Anyone who wants to improve the lives of those around them and foster a thriving and prospering community should be part of UKSPHA. We have a variety of majors, which speaks to the easy integration of public health into a multitude of fields,” said Grospitch.

Students can join by requesting membership on BBNvolved and keep up with UKSPHA on Instagram at @ukyspha.

“UKSPHA is an amazing way to get a head start on understanding exactly what public health is and how it impacts our daily lives,” said Jones. “Forming close connections with people interested in public health opens the door for so many opportunities for students interested in health and healthcare. UKSPHA offers students countless occasions to gain a more holistic understanding of health and what we, as college students, can do to further advance various public health measures.”