CWU News

CWU Public Health Students, Alumni Help Combat COVID-19

CWU public health master's student working with Kittitas County Public Health DepartmentCentral Washington University students studying public health are finding their skills are more in-demand than ever before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our current students are now being hired by public health departments,” said Casey Mace Firebaugh, CWU’s public health program online coordinator. “So, they’re finishing their classes online while they’re working on the front lines.”

CWU’s online Bachelor of Science in Public Health program was launched in 2016, with its first graduates receiving their degrees just last June. Only 90 students are admitted each year into the CWU undergraduate public health program, which was recently ranked No. 4 in the nation for value in 2020 by the e-publication Guide to Online Schools.

“Virtually every person is seeing how critical public health must be if we want to have functioning communities; this is a very real opportunity to elevate the role of public health in society,” noted Tishra Beeson, program coordinator for Central Washington University’s Master of Public Health program. “It’s also an extraordinary time to be studying public health and applying the principles that we know improve the health of populations.”

'Generally speaking, public health involves safeguarding and improving overall community health through education, public policy development, and research into injury or disease prevention.

The current public health students and recent alumni are involved in tasks such as data gathering and analysis, communications, health promotion, infectious disease contact tracing and surveillance, nutrition distribution, policy development, and other essential functions.

They’re prepared for the field after taking courses on subjects from public health communication to epidemiology, and from cross-cultural public health practices to the history of pandemics, among many others.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,