UTH

ACTion Lab

Advocate | Connect | Transform

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Advocate | Connect | Transform

A- Advocating on issues significant to local communities  

C- Connecting students to meaningful public health practice experiences  

T- Transforming learning and practice in the field 

About Us

Preparing the future public health workforce and providing them with tangible tools and experiences to ensure success, all while benefiting our communities in real-time is of the utmost importance. The ACTion Lab, created by the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement, affirms this and supports the mission and vision of UTHealth Houston School of Public Health by connecting students with learning and experiential opportunities in the community and translating the school’s values into action.

Listen to the Beyond Boundaries podcast presented by the ACTion Lab!

The Beyond Boundaries podcast is produced by the ACTion Lab at the School of Public Health. Beyond Boundaries explores the people, places, and policies impacting health and well-being throughout Texas and beyond. Listen to each episode as we focus on topics related to gaining equity, challenging the status quo, and transforming the work of public health.

Listen to the podcast to the Beyond Boundaries podcast on Spotify here, or watch the video version on the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health YouTube channel here.

Purpose

The UTHealth Houston School of Public Health ACTion Lab is intentionally designed to:

  1. Prepare School of Public Health students for meaningful community engagement.
  2. Connect students with community-based opportunities that can fulfill practicum or Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) degree requirements, support student research, or provide general hands-on experience. With a focus on topics critical to preparing students for real-world public health settings, the ACTion Lab serves to train students on how to advocate alongside others on issues of significance to local communities, connect students to meaningful public health practice experiences, and transform learning by doing in the field (i.e. ACT).  

Mission and Values

Mission

The ACTion Lab seeks to bring UTHealth Houston School of Public Health Core Values, Mission, and Vision to life for our students and the communities we serve.  

Values in Action

Action 

Provide opportunities for students to engage in action-based experiences that help influence decisions impacting health and social well-being among Texas’ most marginalized groups. 

Equity 

Ensure the work of the ACTion Lab (activities, training, experiences, partners, and projects) 1) targets injustices and unjust policies and practices impacting public health and 2) actively and meaningfully involves those individuals and groups most affected. 

Community-Engaged Scholarship  

Provide opportunities in which faculty members, community members, and students become co-learners and co-generators of knowledge and facilitate dissemination through broad channels, both traditional (academic journals, white papers) and non-traditional (podcasts, community talks, vlogs).  

Actions and Activities

Training, Education and Service-Learning 

Are you looking for ways to broaden your understanding and strengthen your skills? Then the ACTion Lab is for you! 

The ACTion connects students to programming and learning opportunities focused on leadership, advocacy, and authentic engagement. 

By engaging with the ACTion Lab, students will enjoy: 

  • Workshops, speaker series, and other events (open to all) 
  • Online educational training modules (open to all) 
  • Connection to Service-learning Opportunities and Fellowships (application may be required) 
  • Completion certificate/digital badge opportunities 

Workshops and Speaker Series 

The ACTion Lab hosts an annual schedule of relevant topical workshops and speaker series. These include, but are not limited to, training on key topics (message framing, community-based engagement, collective leadership), book club discussions, invited speakers, and more. All events are open to the School of Public Health, and the community to allow students to collaborate with community partners in co-learning spaces. 

For information on upcoming events, visit the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health events calendar

Online Educational Modules 

The ACTion Lab provides education for UTHealth Houston School of Public Health students on topics relevant to successful community-based transformative engagement. In collaboration with faculty and community partners, we aim to offer online modules on the following topics: 

  • Advocacy
  • Allyship & Leadership
  • Community Engagement
  • Legal Ethics
  • Public Health Equity

ACTion Lab modules are available to all UTHealth School of Public Health students who wish to pursue them. Access to the modules can be granted upon request. As the ACTion lab grows, additional modules critical to the work of the Lab will be developed. To request access, complete the ACTion Lab Online Educational Training Modules Request Form. All questions can be directed to [email protected]

Service-learning Opportunities 

The ACTion Lab facilitates students' connection with service-learning opportunities that are important to both the student and the community. These opportunities are available to all students and can be pursued over a half-day, multiple days, or weekend. Depending on the community partner's need, some may extend over a week. 

Available Documentaries 

The ACTion Lab hosts a series of documentary film screenings on various public health issues specifically pertaining to topics surrounding health equity, disability, violence/abuse, incarceration, sexual health, mental health, aging, and more. The ACTion Lab film screenings are followed by a guided panel discussion to allow students and community members to engage in important public health issues and discuss ways to create impactful change.  

The ACTion Lab also offers students, faculty, staff, and community members access to documentaries for their own screening events. To view the full list of the documentaries, and to submit a request to access a documentary, please fill out the documentary request form.  

Partner with the ACTion Lab!  

The ACTion Lab aims to connect our students to impactful learning opportunities in communities across Texas. These include opportunities for students to engage in action-based activities that influence decisions impacting health and social well-being within Texas’ most marginalized groups. Doing so will ensure the work of the Lab 1) targets injustices and unjust policies and practices impacting public health and 2) actively involves those most impacted by the health issue. 

In order to offer these opportunities to students, the Lab seeks the guidance, support, and collaboration of community partners and organizations. Through the various tiers of student engagement, examples of community and organizational engagement with the ACTion Lab can include; 

Co-learning and Educational Activities 

The ACTion Lab will host events each semester. These include, but are not limited to, trainings on key topics, book club discussions, invited guest lectures, and more. We welcome collaborating with community partners to host and facilitate events. All events are open to the School of Public Health and some are open to the community at large to better engage with community partners and allow students to learn in collaboration.  

Service-learning Opportunities 

We are looking to market small-scale (one-day; multi-day, weekend) service-learning opportunities to interested students. These can include, but are not limited to, volunteer efforts to support a program or event, deliver presentations, and survey facilitation.  

Long-term Fellowship Projects

The ACTion Lab allows students to participate in meaningful and financially supported long-term (Graduate Fellowships) experiences in partnership with community organizations. Community partners can work with trained students and provide them with real-world experience. Opportunities suitable for Graduate Fellowship projects are expected to be more robust than Service-learning Opportunities. Examples include:

Graduate Fellowships (12-24 months) 

  • Development and/or implementation of community-based activities; grant writing assistance; foundation and government agency proposal submission; community needs assessments; partnership development   

Current Community Partners

The Prevention Institute

The Prevention Institute prides itself on health equity, safety, and the well-being of its communities. This institution has four approaches to how it impacts policymakers, decision-makers, professionals, and the public. The approaches are:

  1. Innovation.
  2. Building capacity.
  3. Policy and systems change.
  4. Momentum.

The ACTion Lab aims to collaborate with the Prevention Institute to establish resources and educational enrichment to advance health initiatives, racial justice, and prevention. To learn more about the Prevention Institute, check out the link to their website.

Contact Us 

For additional information or questions, please contact: 

Email: [email protected]  

ACTion Lab Team

Kimberly Baker, DrPH, MPH 
ACTion Lab, Co-director

Robert Hammarberg, DrPH, MPA 
ACTion Lab Co-director

Fatima Sheriff, MPH, PhD Candidate 
ACTion Lab Graduate Assistant 

The ACTion Lab launched the fellowship program in the Summer of 2022 and proudly hosted two doctoral students in both the summer and fall semesters of 2022, and is currently hosting two master's students who are working with the Prevention Institute (our ACTion lab partner).

AOkhuozagbon

Ariana Okhuozagbon is a 2023 Action Lab Fellow from Houston, Texas. With an undergraduate degree in biology from Fisk University, she followed her interest in understanding how the human body works and what it requires to be healthy. Ariana believes that health is a human right and is driven by that principle to be a bridge for disenfranchised communities. Ariana is a third-year MPH student at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, focusing on Community Health Practice and a certificate in health disparities.

As a change agent, Ariana seeks to impact the health of communities with low socioeconomic status by helping to remove any stumbling blocks keeping them from being at their most healthy. Ariana advocates for providing health education and resources and influencing health policies in favor of those who suffer most due to structural determinants of health.

Jithin K.jpg
Jithin Jose Kallumalickal is a first-year MPH Epidemiology student known for his commitment to engaging communities for positive change. His venture into public health began during his medical education (MBBS). As a student, he was actively involved in various outreach programs promoting welfare among the lower socio-economic strata. Additionally, he collaborated in research focused on identifying vulnerable populations and implementing targeted solutions. While practicing as a physician in India, he actively worked in rural areas as a part of India’s extensive health programs, advocating for and promoting maternal and child healthcare, education, and the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices. He is passionate about partnering with disadvantaged communities and championing causes directly affecting their health and well-being. He believes that emphasizing health equity and advocating for policy reforms is essential to bring about transformative changes that empower these communities to live healthy and productive lives.

Tuate D.jpeg
Tuate Dambo is a dedicated public health professional with a comprehensive educational background. She is advancing toward a doctorate in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth and holds a Master of Public Health in Health Equity. She has strong skills in research, data analysis, and community engagement. Her diverse experience includes roles such as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, where she honed her health promotion skills, and as a Research Assistant, contributing to significant projects like the workforce improvement project for Community Health Workers and an opioid harm reduction project. Tuate is committed to public health and will continue developing the necessary skill sets to contribute significantly to various projects and initiatives.

Connect with us!

Direct any questions to the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement. 

Email: [email protected]  

ACTion Lab Team 

Kimberly Baker, DrPH 
ACTion Lab Co-director 

Robert Hammarberg, DrPH  
ACTion Lab Co-director 

Fatima Sheriff, MPH, PhD Candidate 
ACTion Lab Graduate Assistant 

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