MPH student works with city to improve transportation equityNov 14, 2020
Morgan Turner, a second year MPH student in the Physical Activity and Healthy Lifestyles concentration at CSU, wanted to pursue public health because of its diverse application to many areas of life. She was attracted to the variety within public health and how elements of public health are relevant throughout most, if not all, industries. After her first two semesters of coursework, she was interested in working with healthy equity and wanted to explore working in the public sector in local government with the city of Fort Collins. She completed her practicum and is currently working on her capstone with the city and FC Moves, which is a department within the city’s Planning, Development, and Transportation division. Their work is primarily focused on advancing mobility solutions to increase walking, bicycling, transit use, and shared and environmentally sustainable modes of transportation.
“Learning about health inequities and disparities in my public health classes has played a large role in both my practicum and capstone project. I have also applied a great deal of my knowledge about working with community members and different community groups in my work” she said.
Morgan’s main role in her practicum and capstone has been to analyze and describe previous data conducted by the city regarding transportation and barriers to transportation among LatinX/Hispanic community members. She has also been researching the work that other cities and communities have done towards transportation equity. She is also helping to organize a focus group to learn more about what is preventing the LatinX/Hispanic community from “shifting their ride”, and to get feedback on how the city’s marketing campaign, Shift Your Ride, can be more culturally and linguistically relevant as to increase involvement and participation. LatinX/Hispanic communities contribute to 12.1% of the Fort Collins population, making it the largest minority group. Historically, information regarding city initiatives have only been offered in English. As a result, LatinX/Hispanic community members have identified lack of knowledge and information as key reasons for not participating in city-wide initiatives.
Finally, Morgan is also working with the city’s Environmental Services Department, which supports community values and has adopted policy goals based on the community’s needs. They have been offering programs and services that improve indoor and outdoor air quality, implementing climate action planning and reporting, increasing recycling and waste diversion, coordinating municipal sustainability activities, undertaking environmental data management, and participating in strategic municipal and community efforts.
By doing her capstone and practicum at the same place Morgan has established trust and rapport with many city employees and has loved staying on a project for an extended period of time.
“It really helps to feel more involved, engaged, and that I am making a difference on a city level” she said.
After her practicum and capstone experience, Morgan is interested in continuing to work in the equity space in the future, continuing to eliminate barriers in order to achieve health equity, especially among institutionally underrepresented groups.
This story was written by MPH student Megan Jansson for ColoradoSPH at CSU.