Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Student Serving During Pandemic Wins Public Health Award

Zuzel Alonso, a student in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, received the 2020 Jason and Kelly Altmire Public Health Student Achievement Award for her work in the program and out in the greater community.

Jason Altmire, a former U.S. representative, and his wife Kelly established the annual award in 2014 to recognize and support outstanding students in the MPH program. They are both political science alums from the college (he in 1990, she in 1991). He also served as senior Vice President of Florida Blue Cross Blue Shield from 2013 to 2017.

“Presenting” the honor in an online meeting today, Altmire told Alonso, “This is exactly what we had in mind when we created this, people like you who are serving the community and on track to do big things in the public health field.”

Alonso is a first generation Cuban-American student and a first generation college student in her family. She came to the program after earning her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from FSU in summer 2017.

“Initially, I thought I would go the medical doctor route,” Alonso said. “But I found I was more inclined to make a difference through health policy.”

She has been working full-time at the Florida Department of Health while maintaining full-time status as a student with a 4.0 average in the MPH program. She recently took a position as the Emergency Management Statewide Training Coordinator in the department’s Bureau of Preparedness and Response.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in the state, Alonso was activated as a staffing specialist, working remotely from her home to staff and train statewide call and message centers and deploy medical personnel and resources throughout Florida.

After her expected graduation in summer 2020, Alonso plans to follow her interest in maternal and child health and fertility access.

“I also want to work in the area of reproductive and sexual health policy,” she said. “My goal is to make it more inclusive to all people, including but not limited to the LGBTQ+ community.”

Each recipient of the annual Altmire Award must be a full-time senior or graduate student in the college majoring in public health policy with a minimum 3.5 GPA who demonstrates ambition and maturity through campus involvement and leadership, internships, employment, community service, faculty recommendations and/or overcoming significant challenges.

For more about the Public Health program visit this link. More info about former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire can be found here.

In a virtual meeting hosted by William Weissert, director of the MPH program, Zuzel Alonso (top) accepted the award from her Tallahassee home from Jason and Kelly Altmire, who participated from their home in Pontra Vedra, Fla.