Public Health Student's Service Winds Axelrod Fellowship

Danice Stone

A student in the Master of Public Health program at the University's School of Public Health has been named thefirst recipient of the David Axelrod Fellowship, a $10,000 annual award that commemorates the activism and public health spirit that guided former Commissioner Axelrod in his long and distinguished career with the New York State Department of Health.

Danice Stone, a first-year M.P.H. student from Taylor, Missouri, who spent last year delivering health and safety training programs to community organizations in southern Illinois, was named the first Axelrod fellow to win the top master's level award at the School. Ms. Stone, a 1994 graduate of Kenyon College, began her master's level studies at the School of Public Health earlier this fall. An undergraduate biology major at Kenyon, Stone is specifically interested in maternal and child health.

"We are thrilled to have this prestigious new fellowship to commemorate one of the giants in the modern history of public health," said David O. Carpenter, Dean of the School of Public Health. "And we are delighted to have Danice Stone here at the School as the first recipient of the Fellowship. Her background certainly fits the profile of that kind of enterprising public health student David Axelrod would have wanted to support at the School." University at Albany President Karen Hitchcock noted that Dr. Axelrod was instrumental in helping to establish the School of Public Health more than ten years ago. 3It was Dr. Axelrod, working hand in hand with former University President Vincent O9Leary, who had the foresight to bring the School into being,2 Dr. Hitchcock said. 3We are indeed fortunate that these two visionary men saw the value of a cooperative venture linking the University and the state Health Department. This unique partnership represents a cost-efficient and highly effective means of providing quality public higher education in an area of critical importance to New York9s current and future well- being.2

Between college and graduate school, Stone spent a year in Americorps, President Clinton's Community Service Initiative, often referred to as a domestic version of the Peace Corps. Under the federal program, a cadre of young people perform community service activities in exchange for living stipends and educational grants. Stone worked through the American Red Cross providing AIDS education, CPR and first aid training for dozens of schools and community organizations in two counties in southern Illinois near Quincy. Among those organizations that received health and safety training from Stone were the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, several senior citizen centers, youth organizations, minority and low-income housing developments, and a host of public and alternative schools in the area.

"It was a great learning experience," Stone says. "I was in charge of the whole project, contacting each and every organization, explaining the purpose of the training, convincing the group it was necessary and important, and then, actually presenting the material in a public setting. I had the chance to work hard on my public speaking skills."

One of the most rewarding, and yet poignant, parts of her job was the work she did with young pregnant teens. "Many of these young girls were just kids," Stone says. "I felt no one really cared about them, and their needs." Often, Stone taught young single mothers infant CPR, and her goal always, she says, "was to increase the young women's self-confidence."

The new fellowship commemorates former Health Commissioner David Axelrod, who devoted his career to public health. Axelrod gained a reputation for emphasizing the importance of science in the making of public health policy. Under his leadership, the Department of Health became known for a scientific professionalism that set a standard for public health agencies nationwide.

The fellowship was made possible by one of the most successful individual fund-raising drives in the history of the University. A group of Axelrod's friends, colleagues and family members established an endowment fund that raised close to $200,000 from more than 250 donors. Contributions, which are tax-deductible, may still be made to the David Axelrod Public Health Endowment. For more information on contributing to the endowment, contact The University at Albany Foundation, 1400 Washington Ave., AD-231, Albany, New York 12222 (518) 442-5300.

Applications are now being accepted for the 1996-1997 fellowship. For more information on applying for the fellowship, contact the School of Public Health, Executive Park South, Albany, New York 12203-3727. (518) 485-5500/ Fax: (518) 485-5560.

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