Building Relationships to Benefit Public Health

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MPH candidate Evan Timme is the graduate school student speaker for the UConn Health commencement ceremony May 12.


Evan Michael Timme is UConn Health Graduate School student commencement speaker. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)
Evan Michael Timme is the 2014 UConn Health Graduate School student commencement speaker. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)

Evan Michael Timme knew for a pretty long time that he wanted to be an instructor, ultimately at the university level.

What wasn’t immediately clear, as he left Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in health science, was his path to that goal.

It would bring him to Connecticut with the national service program AmeriCorps VISTA and the UConn community-campus partnership Husky Sport. Timme worked to facilitate programs designed to build lasting relationships and engage youth in Hartford’s North End in the areas of nutrition education, physical activity, life skill development and academic enrichment.

“Part of the reason of my motivation to do AmeriCorps, beside my personal interest in it, was to allow myself to have more experiences that would provide me the opportunity to make a more well-informed decision about future academic pursuits,” Timme says. “It really allowed me to see that public health has strong ties with community nature, working with a population, using quantitative analysis as a way of promoting health change.”

That led him to UConn’s Master of Public Health program. He continued to work with Husky Sport, this time as a graduate assistant. The next two years would grow his interest in public health and policy.

“The more I read and every class I took expanded a little bit beyond what I already knew,” Timme says. “And I’m still learning today. I don’t think I’ll ever be truly done and fully have synthesized what public health is, because it changes.”

What hasn’t changed is his desire to advocate for those who may not have a strong voice.

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2014 MPH candidate Evan Timme works with students in Hartford’s North End as a facilitator for HuskySport. (Leah Ward for UConn)

“It’s about being conscious of individuals who may be economically disadvantaged, for whom the health message may not be delivered in their native language and how that is a deficit, and how public health individuals sometimes can become so removed from the population they’re serving that they tend not to even really recognize the most beneficial forms of reaching their audience, and I think that is a deficit for public health,” Timme says. “It’s about having an understanding of the population you’re truly serving, and artfully and tactfully and efficiently moving forward to align messages that will be aligned with your audience. I think policy has a strong influence there.”

Timme, who’s been living in Manchester, will move south and work for the nonprofit college student service organization Impact Alabama, where he’ll coordinate an effort to deliver early vision screenings to more than 30,000 children.

Before that, he’ll deliver the UConn Health Graduate School student commencement address May 12 in Storrs.

Timme eventually will pursue a Ph.D. in public health or a Doctor of Public Health degree, with plans on becoming a professor in a university setting. In that role he envisions himself as a facilitator of knowledge, particularly from the environment to the classroom.

“Strive to find the opportunities around you,” he says. “That’s a big thing. Connect with people not on just what you need to get done, but connect with them on a personal level. Get a chance to know someone. I’m a firm believer in how beneficial relationships can be, not just at completing a job or getting something done, but really it makes a strong connection that allows for a better conversation to take place.”

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