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Closing out its inaugural year, the Catalyst Alumni Mentorship Program proved to be a rewarding experience for both alumni mentors and students. This initiative paired 20 University of Kentucky College of Public Health (CPH) alumni mentors with 20 Bachelor of Public Health (BPH) students to provide valuable support and guidance to help students reach their career goals.

The Catalyst Alumni Mentorship program is designed to connect students with mentors who share similar interests or who work in the students’ desired careers, according to Dr. Sarah Cprek, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Bachelor of Public Health program. She said participants gain real-world perspectives, networking opportunities, and tailored advice to help them navigate their academic and professional journeys.

“Being part of our mentorship program opens doors to many potential opportunities for BPH students,” Dr. Cprek said. “They gain access to personalized support and mentorship from public health professionals, helping them clarify their career goals, develop essential skills, and build meaningful connections within the field. The program is a valuable opportunity for anyone passionate about making a difference through a public health career.”

Anna Hallahan, CPH Senior Alumni Coordinator, said the alumni mentors went above and beyond to help their mentees.

“It’s been heartwarming to be a part of it,” Hallahan said. “The alumni mentors care because they’ve been in the students’ shoes and want to help them achieve their goals.”

Nahal Hosseini, who is a Master of Health Administration alum and one of the mentors, said the program was incredibly rewarding.

“The well-structured format ensures meaningful interactions and impactful guidance,” she said. “I'm eager to cheer my mentee on and follow their career journey post-graduation.”

Mentor and Master of Public Health alum Rudrani Ghosh said the program is such a great initiative to have at CPH.

“If I had this program when I started at UK in 2004, I would have been better prepared for the external job market,” she said.

Many of the alumni mentors said they were grateful for the opportunity to play a small part in their mentees’ journey.

“It was truly an honor to serve as a mentor for the College of Public Health. Watching my mentee's growth and development was incredibly rewarding,” said Courtney Toms, a mentor and Bachelor of Public Health alum.

Charles Rhea, a mentor and Master of Public Health alum, added, “It was great connecting with current students and to provide guidance to them on best steps they could take to enhance their experience at UK.”

Students also noted how impactful the program was.

“Participating in this program has improved my confidence to succeed through my strengths and weaknesses in figuring out what life has to offer me,” said BPH student Sara Dickens.

BPH student Samantha Jones said, “It's not just knowledge shared; it's wisdom nurtured, empowering the next generation to ignite change and heal communities.”

Fellow BPH student Princess Magor Agbozo said the program helped her realize that she is indeed interested in working in public health.

“I enjoyed participating in the mentor program because I was able to get advice and guidance from a public health professional who had experience working in the field,” Princess said.

For BPH student Ashley Grospitch, the mentorship program was instrumental to her success.

“My alumni mentor supported me in applying for jobs after graduation by helping me edit my application materials, network, practice for interviews, build my personal brand, and more,” Ashley said. “My experience with the Mentorship Program has been solely positive, and I encourage all students to apply.”

Thanks to the feedback of the students and mentors, several improvements are being made for the second year.

“The mentors provided us with great feedback on ways we can grow and improve the program for the next cohort, so I’m excited to implement them,” Hallahan said. “One of the suggestions was to provide a form for the mentors to assist with their mentee’s goal-tracking, so we’ll have that available this next cohort for those who want to use it.”

For alumni interested in the Catalyst Alumni Mentorship program, Dr. Cprek said it is a chance to give back to the public health community by sharing their knowledge, experiences, and insights with the next generation of professionals.

“It's a rewarding opportunity to make a meaningful impact, contribute to the growth and development of aspiring public health leaders, and stay connected to UK CPH,” she said.

BPH students can apply in the spring for the following academic year.