Student receives Centers for Disease Control and Prevention virtual internship

Emily Slimak
October 04, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Internships are a valuable experience for many students who are bridging the gap between their classroom studies and their eventual careers, working alongside professionals, embedded in a work environment.

But one Penn State student will experience something different in her upcoming internship experience. She’ll be interning … virtually.

Alexandra Wagner is participating in an integrated undergraduate-graduate degree program, which allows students to earn an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years. She’s already earned a bachelor's degree in biobehavioral health in 2019 and is currently working on the graduate component of the program — a master's degree in public health (MPH) — at Penn State College of Medicine. 

Wagner was offered an internship in the Emergency Public Health Preparedness department of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the highly competitive Virtual Student Federal Service Internship program.

Wagner was selected as awardee for the internship out of a pool of 135 applicants.

Throughout the internship Wagner will be assisting the department of Emergency Public Health Preparedness with various emergency public-health preparedness drills, along with helping to create educational materials. She will then partake in the assessment of the impact of specific drills, educational events and materials.

“I am incredibly excited to have the chance to explore the public-health emergency preparedness field alongside CDC experts and global leaders. I am especially looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the breadth of the field, specifically how local entities, states and the federal government come together to address public health threats ranging from the flu to natural disasters," said Wagner.

The virtual aspect of the internship helps enable students like Wagner to get an incredible experience while keeping on track with their prescribed program of study.

“It’s a completely virtual internship so I’ll be able to stay in Hershey, Pennsylvania, while I’m finishing up my MPH,” said Wagner. “The internship is only about 10 hours a week, but it is a great way to get my foot in the door with the CDC and explore what I think and hope I want to pursue once I graduate!”

As part of her interview Wagner had to present on her “proudest work” to date and she chose to present her final fieldwork project from her time spent in Tanzania with the Penn State Global Health Minor program in the summer of 2018. 

“I completely attribute this achievement of being awarded an internship with the CDC to the global health minor and all of the guidance and invaluable knowledge I gained from the program and my fieldwork experience,” said Wagner.

“I was excited, but not surprised, to hear that Ally was selected for the CDC virtual internship,” said Carol LaRegina, associate director of the MPH program at Penn State. “Ally is one of those rare students that excels at whatever she undertakes. I’ve had the pleasure of working with her over the past two years and find her to be very personable, well-informed and proactive in her educational goals.”

For more information on the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Training and Educational Materials Development internship with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visit the CDC website.

To learn more about the Penn State Biobehavioral Health (BBH) - Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree program, visit the program website.

To learn more about the Global Health Minor program, visit the program website. Students interested in the global health minor are encouraged to attend one of the upcoming information sessions.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 15, 2019