Friday, May 30, 2014

Shaping the future of the CDC

It’s often been said that students are the building blocks of the future.

That’s never been more evident than in the case of one Post University graduate student who is helping to build a database that will carry a major U.S. government agency well into the future.

Valerie Martinelli, who recently graduated from Post with a Master of Public Administration, began a student project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in December called “CDCOLOGY”.

Photo of a female in Graduation regalia smiling.
Valerie Martinelli recently graduated from Post
with a Masters of Public Administration. 
With this project, CDC staff post challenges and questions for college students enrolled in the CDCOLOGY program to research and answer.  If accepted by the CDC, the answers become part of an online database that the agency is beginning to build. The project not only relieves members of the CDC from these administrative tasks, it gives college students focusing on emergency management and the healthcare field a hands-on opportunity in their area of study.

Martinelli has completed multiple challenges from the CDC on emergency management professionals, government funding and the Stafford Act. She has had seven posts accepted by the CDC for approval into the database.

“I’ve been able to take what I learned and put it to a real test,” she said. “It’s been exciting and a great experience for me.”

Martinelli, who discovered the program through a tip from her academic success counselor, Mike Wynn, is one of now 1,500 students across the nation participating in CDCOLOGY. She credits her experience at Post as a reason she’s been able to excel in this program and create work that will be referenced for years to come. 

“The biggest thing that prepared me was my capstone project,” she said. “It gave me real-world experience and showed me how things really are, and I’ve been able to put that experience to work.” 

Martinelli credited the professors in the John P. Burke School of Public Service for creating courses designed to work with students, instead of just teaching at them. 

She also pointed to the fact that the Master of Public Administration program is taught by faculty who are working in the field.  It’s also designed to be highly interactive so students can progress as learners.  

“We learned a lot more than just writing policy,” she said. “It’s a great program that really allows you to learn and apply what you’ve learned.”

Martinelli relishes her decision to get involved in CDCOLOGY and hopes it’s a building block in her career, much like she was a building block in the CDC platform.

“I’d really like if I could turn this into something with the CDC, but who knows where it will go,” she said. “You just have to keep putting yourself out there.”