In three and a half years at UAlbany, Kelly Virkler leaves with a Ph.D. and international attention for groundbreaking work related to crime scene forensic evidence.Read More
Christina Hansen, '09
Bringing About Change in Health Policy
Like many college students, Christina Hansen was saddened and troubled by the 2005 case of Michelle Morse. Morse, a cancer-stricken New Hampshire college senior, faced forfeiting her college health insurance if she took a doctor-advised medical leave to deal with her illness.
Hansen put herself in position to help change federal law to protect students like Morse, whose death six months after graduation sparked New Hampshire to pass “Michelle’s Law,” ensuring health coverage for the state's college students fighting serious illness.
As a UAlbany School of Public Health graduate student doing a summer internship in 2008 with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Hansen took a lead role in the battle for a federal initiative. She created an “Advocacy Guidebook” and toolkit to foster volunteer efforts by college students.
In addition, Hansen, who earned her master’s in public health from UAlbany in May 2009, helped design a campaign that pushed a petition through the National Collegiate Summit and other events. The grassroots effort helped muster nationwide support for a federal Michelle’s Law; it passed the U.S. Congress and was signed into law by President George W. Bush last fall.
She was honored to participate in its passage and has relished other opportunities to advance public health policies. In January, Hansen was named a Fellow in Public Policy by UAlbany's Center for Women in Government and Civil Society. The fellowship allowed her to work in the Albany office of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, where she managed a grant to improve electronic fetal monitoring and put together a committee of obstetricians/gynecologists to address patient safety policies.
Hansen, a native of Muscatine, IA, plans to continue to influence health legislation. She plans to return to Washington D.C. to use her expertise in the areas of maternal and child health or women's health.
“Whatever I end up doing, I know that my education and experiences through the University at Albany have prepared me to become an influential leader in the field of public health,” said Hansen.