Alumni Features

Pomp, despite the circumstance

CPHHS honors 2020 graduates

OSU graduation at Reser Stadium
Graduation at Reser Stadium

By Kathryn Stroppel

Commencement, like most of life in 2020, looks a little different this spring. Celebrations have moved online, at least until fall, to recognize the college’s 93 graduate students and 359 undergraduate students.  

“We’re doing everything we can to show our students how proud we are of them, that we recognize the extra stress the lock-down has had on their final term, and that we appreciate their hard work, flexibility, patience and commitment in earning their degree,” says College of Public Health Human Sciences Dean F. Javier Nieto. “Thanks to their efforts and the support of faculty and staff, every student who was on track to graduate this year will graduate. They should feel very proud of their accomplishment, and we hope to see them back on campus this fall for more formal recognition.” 

“In these disruptive, troubling, and unprecedented times, we need caring individuals working together. I have every confidence that the CPHHS graduating class of 2020 will continue to instigate change and healing for a better tomorrow,” says Vicki Ebbeck, associate dean for student success. “They are individually impressive and collectively a force, and I am thankful for all they have taught me.”  

Learn more about CPHHS graduates committed to improving health and well-being, watch videos of our newest alumni, and send your well wishes at

CPHHS Undergraduate Class of 2020 Stats

Meet a few of the next generation of public health and human sciences professionals … 

JP Bigouette is a doctoral student who will be starting his dream job, joining the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, this summer. The EIS program is a highly competitive two-year, applied epidemiology fellowship. Read more about JP

Victoria Boechler is an undergraduate Honors student in kinesiology. She completed an Honor’s project on novel regulators of muscle fat metabolism in humans and is pursing graduate education in physical therapy. 

Nyssa Cronin is a hardworking HDFS Human Services student who also is a single-parent. She has engaged in fascinating internships during her time at OSU, particularly this term in the Benton County Emergency Center. She is an undergraduate teaching assistant for HDFS 462 Professional Helping Skills. 

Julio Diaz is a McNair Scholar who earned his MPH in biostatistics. He’s a first-generation student who will begin a data manager and analyst position in Cook County, Ill., after graduation. 

During her PhD programLan Đoàn was a graduate fellow in the National Institutes of Health Graduate Summer Opportunity to Advance Research program, was awarded the National Institute on Aging R36 Aging Research Dissertation Award, and published in JAMA Network Open and the American Journal of Epidemiology. Following graduation, she will join the NYU Department of Population Health’s Section for Health Equity as a postdoctoral fellow, where she will continue research on Asian American health disparities at the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health. 

Jackson Brim-Edwards, a kinesiology major, completed several years of high-level undergraduate research, including a clinical trial of exercise training in humans. He is transitioning to a research assistantship internship while he applies to medical school. 

Sarah Ehrlicher is a doctoral student in nutrition. Sarah has researched how obesity and exercise training impact skeletal muscle mitochondria. The implication of this work is a better understanding of how exercise promotes health during obesity. She is moving to the University of Alabama at Birmingham for an internship in clinical dietetics. 

Morgan Miller is an HDFS Human Services student who is considering earning an MPH. She is bilingual in Spanish and is an amazing writer who is committed to social justice and improving the lives of people who struggle with mental health challenges.  

Mandy Ruckman is an Ecampus student earning a bachelor’s degree in HDFS. She has an exceptional academic record, all while raising a family. Her husband is active military. She plans to attend Columbia University this fall and will pursue a Master of Social Work. 

Harrison Stierwalt is a doctoral student in kinesiology.  Harrison investigated how skeletal muscle lipid metabolism is regulated with exercise and the interaction with insulin signaling. He led a clinical research project as part of new and growing collaborations at the Samaritan Athletic Medical Center on OSU’s Corvallis campus. Harrison is transitioning to a post-doctoral position at the University of Kansas Medical School. 

Mary Willis is completing her PhD in environmental and occupational health.  This year, she received the prestigious NIH F31 doctoral research award, presented her research at several national and international conferences, and published multiple first-author manuscripts.   

Crystal Ybarra is an MPH-EOH graduate who served as a student outreach coordinator for the Pesticide Safety Education Program, where she worked on a project that considered the effects of occupational exposure to pesticides on the brain. She received funding and leave from the U.S. Navy to earn her MPH degree and is being commissioned by the Navy as an environmental health officer.