September 10, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cassie Odahowski is committed to passing on what she’s learned in UofSC’s Ph.D. in Epidemiology program. Following her August graduation, the rural health researcher began her new role as an assistant professor of health sciences at the University of Central Florida.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with undergraduate students and expanding the research I started during my Ph.D. program,” Odahowski says. “I really enjoy working with undergrads and introducing them to epidemiology and research methods. The University of Central Florida is an excellent location for this as they have one of the largest student populations in the country and a strong focus on undergraduate research.”
Odahowski is returning to Florida where she had grown up, attended Florida State University as an undergraduate and then worked as an epidemiologist following the completion of a master of public health degree from Tulane University. Despite being raised in a rural town, the challenges faced by rural residents in accessing quality health care did not hit home for Odahowski until her grandfather was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, and the family discovered that the nearest radiation facility was over an hour away.
I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with undergraduate students and expanding the research I started during my Ph.D. program.
-Cassie Odahowski, Ph.D. in epidemiology
“I realized that the majority of rural Americans do not have the resources available to access specialized care and treatment,” says Odahowski. “This experience motivated me to go back to school for my Ph.D. to better understand cancer epidemiology and rural health.”
The Norman J. Arnold Doctoral Fellow quickly immersed herself in research opportunities and other activities within the Arnold School’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program and the Rural and Minority Health Research Center. Off campus, she worked closely with the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, where she completed a consulting practicum for the South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan.
In addition to her coursework and research/practical experiences, Odahowski is confident that her mentors helped prepare her for her new role as an academic faculty member. “Because of Dr. Myriam Torres and Dr. Linda Hazlett, I feel well-equipped to take on the large undergraduate classes that I am teaching this fall,” she says. “Dr. Jan Eberth went above and beyond the requirements of a doctoral mentor in her steadfast commitment to my development as an epidemiologist. She opened countless doors for me, and I feel that the culmination of the curriculum and my research opportunities with Dr. Eberth prepared me well to work as an independent researcher.”
Odahowksi also points out the invaluable support she received from her dissertation committee, which was chaired by Eberth and included biostatistics professor Jiajia Zhang, Mario Schootman (SSM Health), and epidemiology and biostatistics chair Anthony Alberg – who spent many hours helping Odahowski refine her projects and improve her writing. “They were incredibly supportive and responsive throughout the process,” she says.
“I am also grateful for the relationships that I built with my peers in the program!” Odahowski adds. “They were essential to my success, especially during my dissertation process. I’m thankful to have been surrounded by so many wonderful people in my time at the Arnold School.”