From Academics to Action

By Rachel Dungan

“The CIVCM program gave me an academic ‘home’ at the University that I hadn’t otherwise found. Faculty affiliated with the program (some of whom have become lifelong mentors and friends) encouraged me to think in new ways; they celebrated the fact that I believed studies in one area could help advance my understanding in what sometimes seemed like an “unrelated” field. This encouraged me to push the boundaries on what I’d believed I could do with, and get out of, my Penn State education.

“I’m part of a national community of professionals working at the intersection of health research, policy and practice. Every day, my work helps demonstrate the value and impact of engaging patient and public stakeholders in health (research and policy) decision-making. I attribute this access, opportunity and success largely to my CIVCM education. In each situation, I was prepared to navigate challenging conversations in constructive ways. I was equipped to assume leadership roles, because I could “speak the languages” of multiple people in the room and could connect dots in ways others didn’t anticipate. The CIVCM program introduced me to new ways of thinking, questioning, communicating, and translating my academics into action. I can confidently say that this one experience served as the single most defining element of my Penn State career. It also largely defined the person I now carry out into my local and global community, every day.”