In her first semester at Clark University, Keegan Daugherty ’19 hit the ground running. She interned with the Worcester Department of Health and Human Services, conducting research that prompted the city to adopt a needle-exchange program, with the goal of connecting opioid users to treatment programs.
As part of a team project for Professor Marianne Sarkis’ First-Year Intensive (FYI) course, “Healthy Cities,” she co-presented research on opioid abuse to an audience of public health professionals, recommending the formation of a community-wide coalition to address the rise in overdoses. A year later, as a peer learning adviser for the same course, she interviewed and recorded the life stories of people recovering from opioid addiction.
“I have enjoyed being a student here because of the opportunities I have had to step outside of my comfort zone and discover new passions,” Daugherty says. “I was completely unsure of what career I was interested in when I came to Clark, but my experiences here have led to my discovering a passion for public health.”
She credits Sarkis, assistant professor of international development and social change, with serving as an “amazing mentor” and inspiring her to pursue a career in the field. “Through her, I saw how much positive impact one individual can have on community health.”
About Keegan Daugherty ’19
Daugherty continues to intern with the city’s health department, most recently helping faith-based organizations set up a pilot program to ensure overflow shelters for the homeless during winter. She’s also an EMT for Clark University Rapid Response — and serves as outreach coordinator on the organization’s executive board — and has been involved with the Community Health Research Group. Sarkis created the latter to connect public health students with research and community outreach projects in the Main South neighborhood.
Daugherty’s experience in Worcester led to a LEEP internship that provided the ultimate perch to observe public health professionals shape policy: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She interned this summer at the CDC’s Washington office, which handles communications between the agency’s scientists and Congress. Among other tasks, she conducted background literature research and attended briefings and hearings on a variety of health issues.
“It was fascinating to see how federal-level policies guide public health at the state and local level, especially given my past experience at the Worcester Department of Health and Human Services,” Daugherty says. “This experience has furthered my interest in public health as I now realize how broad the field is. There is such a wide range of opportunities, ranging from working with epidemiology and statistics to health law and policy.”
Miranda “Randy” Katsoyannis ’78, a senior program analyst at the CDC, connected with Daugherty, answering questions and showing her around the nation’s capital. Katsoyannis is co-chair of the University’s Health ClarkCONNECT community, which matches students with alumni, faculty, parents and outside partners for career mentorship and professional networking.
“It was wonderful to have the experience of working with a Clark alum who shares the characteristic Clarkie spirit and see all that she has accomplished,” Daugherty says.
Her CDC experience was enriched, she says, by the insight she gained during her Worcester internship and her coursework at Clark.
“Courses within the psychology and public health curricula prepared me with not just the knowledge base for the topics that I encountered during this internship but also with strong research and writing skills,” Daugherty says. “And my classes through the Program of Liberal Studies further strengthened my analytical abilities and provided a background in international affairs, knowledge that has been indispensable during this internship.”
As she heads back to Clark this fall, Daugherty believes the CDC internship helped her grow personally and professionally. After college, she hopes to pursue a dual degree in public health and law (M.P.H./J.D.).
“The policy analyses that I conducted have led me to realize my love of health policy, an area of public health which I had not previously considered as a career path,” she says. “It was an unparalleled experience absorbing this through personal experience rather than learning about it from a textbook.”