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Retention Specialists

Retention Specialist


Vidya Visvabharathy is pursuing her Master's of Public Health in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department with a focus in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology. She is interested in how analysis of data can be translated to policy, action, and interventions for vulnerable populations. particularly women and pregnant women. As a GSEP fellow (Graduate Student Epidemiology Program), she spent the past summer at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in New Orleans. There, she completed a research project that assessed the association between birth defects and children's mortality in Louisiana. Vidya performed data linkage on 7 years of birth and death data and conducted survival analysis to see the effect of birth defects on mortality across time. Before beginning school at UIC, Vidya spent a year in Lima, Peru as a Princeton in Latin America fellow to assist an observational study on sexual and reproductive health at a women's prison. That experience was the true driving force behind her decision to study epidemiology. At UIC, Vidya found herself pleasantly surprised with her success in biostatistics. She is really looking forward to getting to know the biostatistics students at UIC this year, and is ready to support them in any way possible! 


Stephen Hall is a Master of Public Health student in Epidemiology. Stephen became interested in Public Health through his experiences with the United Nations One Health Initiative and through his work in disaster response with the American Red Cross. Prior to beginning his studies at UIC in August of 2015, Stephen developed a laboratory background through his work as a biochemist and Product Development Technician. Additionally, he also has experience working with dairy cattle, Angus cattle on a ranch, and domestic animals through his many years working in veterinary hospitals and animal shelters. Starting in his first year of his master’s program, Stephen began serving as a Co-Chair for the Global Health Student Interest Group (GHSIG). This past summer, Stephen worked on multiple data management and analysis projects. He worked with the Greater Humboldt Park Diabetes Empowerment Center to identify a retrospective cohort of individuals to see the effect of activity programs in reducing metabolic syndrome risk factors. Additionally, he orchestrated a project with the Lincoln Park Zoo to assess vaccination practices and zoonotic disease risk of free-roaming dogs within the Northern Cheyenne tribe of Montana. Currently, Stephen is participating in the 2016 cycle of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance project to assess behavioral risk factors contributing to HIV infection. Stephen is excited to have the opportunity to work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion this year and hopes to be able to share his passion for public health and epidemiology with others!  


Kera Beskin is a second year Master's of Public Health student in the Community Health Sciences Department with a Maternal and Child Health Concentration. Kera has an interest in working in health policy or research after graduation. This past summer Kera interned at EverThrive Illinois, formerly the Maternal and Child Health Coalition on their Health Reform initiative. Her first year in graduate school, Kera worked at the Department of Pediatrics assisting with HPV research. Prior to matriculation into graduate school, Kera worked for five years internationally and domestically for the United States Peace Corps. During this experience, Kera wrote, executed, and evaluated two USAID grants totaling $10,000. Kera has a passion for social justice, public speaking, and writing. Throughout her career Kera has worked at numerous nonprofits, including several domestic violence shelters, a suicide and crisis hotline, and a residence facility for formerly incarcerated individuals. Kera holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Social Work with a minor in Theatre Arts. She is excited for the opportunity to get more involved at UIC SPH and help students succeed! Kera's words of wisdom to current or future graduate students is, "Graduate school can be overwhelming especially if you get a disheartening grade on a paper. Don't give up and don't be afraid to ask for help! Speak with your professor. Learn what you can improve. On your next assignment make an outline, write a rough draft, and make an appointment with the writing retention specialist." 

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