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George "Clay" Bryant is a current student in the Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) program at the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health and is gaining valuable internship experiences to help him further his education and professional goals in the future.

Originally, Clay believed he would pursue an education and career in medicine. However, all that changed after Clay took an undergraduate class "Intro to Public Health" with Dr. Sarah Cprek.

"The course opened my eyes to the many different avenues that you could take with public health," says Clay. "Learning about the methodologies and practice of public health is what I chose to learn more about."

As a result, Clay joined the UK College of Public Health as a student in 2018 and has taken advantage of valuable internships experiences with organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"My education at the University of Kentucky has provided the skills and abilities to obtain internships with leading organizations, and apply it in both my personal and professional career," says Clay.

His first internship at the CDC, during the Spring semester of 2021, was housed in the Centers for Preparedness and Response (CPR), Division of State and Local Readiness (DSLR), where he worked specifically with the Evaluation and Analysis Branch (EAB). During this internship, Clay was given the unique opportunity to work specifically with the Operational Readiness Review (ORR), which is a rigorous, evidence-based assessment that evaluates state, local, and territorial planning, and operational functions. More specifically, he worked on determining how and where collected data was stored within CDC databases using SQL.

"I presented valuable information to senior leadership and provided training on how to better use SQL," says Clay. "As a result, this data can be used to provide insight on state, local, and territorial readiness to government leaders."

In the Fall of 2021, Clay secured a new internship with the CDC at the National Centers for Emerging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ). The NCEZID works to protect people at home and around the world from emerging and zoonotic infections ranging from A to Z—anthrax to Zika.

"I've been fortunate to be working directly with the Senior Quarantine Medical Officer," says Clay. "During this internship, we worked on various operational and surveillance projects, research best practices within the Quarantine Station operations, conduct statistical analyses of station data for operational forecasting, and writing communicable disease response plans."

Clay is set to graduate from the BPH program at the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health in 2022.

"After graduation, I plan to pursue my Master of Public Health (MPH) and a PhD in infectious disease epidemiology," says Clay. "In the future, I hope to secure an opportunity with the CDC either as an epidemiologist or health scientist."

At the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health, we believe in developing "health champions" and to be the catalyst of positive change for population health.

"I believe being a health champion is paving the way to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be healthy," says Clay. "This can be achieved by being passionate, showing compassion, and being persuasive and persistent towards things that you believe in."