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MPH Student Jessica Sandcork Spent Summer Fighting the Spread of COVID-19

by Joseph Beem on 01/08/2021

Jessica Sandcork, a second-year Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) student with dual concentrations in Maternal & Child Health and Epidemiology, is working to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

This summer, Sandcork completed an internship at the St. Charles County Department of Public Health (DPH) in St. Charles County, Missouri. While at St. Charles County DPH, Sandcork worked as a COVID-19 Epidemiology intern focusing on prevention in the general population and school aged population of St. Charles County, Missouri.

Photo of Jessica Sandcork at work
Jessica Sandcork

“I was tasked with creating a document to distribute to COVID-19 cases as a supplement to quarantine letters,” Sandcork said. “I had to use my knowledge of epidemiology to accurately explain differences between isolation and quarantine and communicate why quarantine matters.” 

Projects like the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document helped Sandcork utilize her epidemiology skills by exercising her ability to use language that could be understood by someone who was not as knowledgeable of epidemiologic principles. 

“I was also able to conduct analyses of age-related case data over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in the county, specifically regarding children and minors using Excel and SPSS,” Sandcork said. “This enhanced my ability to analyze data in a real-world scenario, such that it could be applied to making decisions about school reopening in the Fall of 2020.” 

While Sandcork felt that her internship benefitted her professional development, it was not without challenges. 

“A recurring challenge in my internship was having accessible, clean data to analyze. A lot of data auditing and cleaning was done to perform even the most basic statistical tasks,” Sandcork said.

“I feel that this will only help me when having to deal with real world data because it is hardly ever perfect or completely clean.” 

With her internship under her belt, Sandcork is ready to take the next step in her professional development. After completing her work with the St. Charles County DPH, she will be ready to go directly into the workforce and possesses the skills needed to be successful, which is a key trait of all Saint Louis University students.

College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in public health, social work, health administration, applied behavior analysis, and criminology and criminal justice.