Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program

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Paul D. Coverdell Fellows
Patricia Roque
Fellows Coordinator

Coverdell Fellow Spotlight: Lucas Hicks, RPCV Benin

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Lucas Hicks – Rural Community Health Agent


My career arc changed during my time in Benin as a Rural Community Health agent with the United States Peace Corps. In my undergraduate career, I first intended on entering the Clinical Research field, but then decided that practicing medicine was best for me. Engaging in Public Health efforts abroad showed me how important it is to focus on upstream factors to prevent poor health outcomes rather than simply reacting to them as they arise. This understanding pushed me to pursue my Master’s degree in Public Health; USF's College of Public Health attracted me through its emphasis on applied experiences, locally and internationally, as well as its dedication to civic engagement.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to learn at USF this past year amidst a cohort of intelligent and passionate students. Thanks to the constant work the Faculty here at the COPH devotes to ensure students are growing in and out of the classroom, I’ve had many opportunities to improve. On top of being a Coverdell Scholar, I was one of the Title V Maternal and Child Health Interns this summer for the Florida Department of Health’s Children’s Medical Services unit where I conducted research on how social determinants of health impact children and youth with special health care needs. I was also chosen this year as one of six Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Scholars. This program provides me access to leadership seminars, conferences in MCH, and the chance to work with a faculty mentor on community research. I work as a Graduate and Teaching Assistant under Dr. Ellen Daley to assist with doctoral-level introductory courses and research into such topics as Human Papillomavirus and oral health. Finally, I regularly attend meetings with the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization on campus.

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I enact Peace Corps’ 3rd goal – improving the understanding of host countries on the part of American citizens – by speaking on panels to students at various middle and high schools about my service, the culture and people of Benin, and the benefits of serving internationally. The USF Health Service Corps offers so many opportunities to get involved at a community level, to learn about the varied career opportunities in the field, and to mentor the next generation of public health leaders. Through their events, I’ve partnered with such organizations as Feeding Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Mayor’s Youth Corps, Restoring Together Tampa Bay, and Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay to provide support for populations in need.