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Kathy Darnell Ebener Public Health Intern Award


Headshot of Kathy Ebener wearing a blue shirt

Kathy Darnell Ebener, CEHHS’s Dean’s Board of Advisors, Public Health subcommittee

This award honors Kathy Darnell Ebener, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology in 1985 and a Master’s degree in Education in Science Curriculum and Instruction in 1986 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Kathy’s professional experience includes almost thirty years as a science educator and private tutor; and recently a change in career to working in the trade show industry.  As a science teacher, she taught middle and high school science and also served at an instructor at Kennesaw State University.  Her passion includes helping students achieve their goals and identifying their personal best.

Kathy has also earned the following special awards and honors: recipient of the Cash Award for Sustained Superior Performance in Department of Defense Dependent Schools, attendance at the  Academy for Teachers of Science and Mathematics representing the state of Georgia, Critical Thinking Teacher of the Month, recognition for consecutive years of excellent teaching performance in the Department of Defense Dependent Schools, District committee appointment for selection of Governor’s Honors Science Recipients, organized Sustained Superior Performance Ratings as an educator in Georgia Schools and Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year.


Intern Award Recipients

  • 2022

    Alyssa Hensley

    • Alyssa Hensley – Interned with Ms. Jodie Simms-McLeod At University of Tennessee (UT) Midwives within the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) healthcare system. She worked collaboratively with healthcare providers at UT Midwives to update existing patient education materials to be more inclusive to underrepresented populations. Her updates to existing patient education handouts accounted for sexual orientation and gender identity of mothers, demographics that were never captured on intake forms previously. Additionally, she worked on creating a fourth-trimester birthing plan for parents that accounted for lower-literacy levels of some patients. This updated plan included information on rest and healing for mothers and babies, feeding schedules for babies, parental roles, and applicable community resources to assist mothers post-birth. These documents will be utilized by UT Midwives moving forward to create a more inclusive and welcoming experience for all patients.
    • Jeremy Kourvelas – Interned with Mr. Ben Harrington at the Mental

      Jeremy Kourvelas

      Health Association of East Tennessee (MHAET). He created a Mental Health Service Gap Analysis report for Knox County where he identified groups that experience inequities to mental health care in Knox County. This work was presented to key stakeholders within Knox County, including county mayor Glenn Jacobs. Jeremy’s work contributed to recognizing service gaps that currently exist for underrepresented populations in Knox County (including LGBTQ+ people and people of color) and will assist MHAET with securing additional funding to begin addressing these disparities.

  • 2021
    • Carman North – Developed COVID-19 vaccination clinics for the campus community, and developed a holistic communication plan that promoted safe, free, and effective vaccines.
    • Zhannae Cummings – Created and led a PowerPoint presentation series on mental health and finalized a grant proposal for a mental health program for students of color at UTK.
    • Emily Wells – Developed a patient journey of care model and developed an implicit bias and cultural competence training to improve the quality of care provided to patients residing in a rural setting
  • 2019
    • Sarah Walsh – created a community health needs assessment checklist template, mapped the healthcare facility distribution across Knox County, analyzed qualitative community health assessment data from six focus groups
  • 2018
    Rebecca Nowack, Kathy Ebener and Reantha Pillay pose together.

    From left to right: Rebecca Nowack, Kathy Ebener and Reantha Pillay pose during the spring 2018 intern presentations.

    • Aly Chapman – Wrote a policy brief on a novel program as a resouce for decision makers.
    • Rebecca Nowack – evaluated a local health department’s home visiting program to identify ways to keep families enrolled; analyzed 20 years of adolescent suicide deaths and recommended prevention strategies to the Child Fatality Review committee; analyzed and interpreted clinic data to guide community outreach efforts .
    • Reantha Pillay – contributed to removing barriers to birth control in East Tennessee. Developed a database of community partners; adapted and implemented Partners in Prevention program; adapted an evidence-based program for a local non-profit who serve urban, at-risk youth.
  • 2017
    • Nicolette Rosa – conducted research and education to increase breastfeeding among women of color in the Bronx, New York.
    • Lisa Acuff – developed a comprehensive, culturally sensitive Facilitator Guide for Community Health Workers in Haiti to promote breastfeeding among Haitian women.


Kathy was inspired to provide funds for this award due to her service on the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Dean’s Board of Advisors,  and also her experiences traveling abroad.  She appreciates the  department  of public health’s commitment to preparing leaders, working with communities, and improving health for all.

Award criteria

  • Must be a graduate student within the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program and enrolled within the UTK College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. Open to all students regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, disability, age, or veteran status without restrictions.
  • Students who demonstrate leadership in working with communities and promoting health equity will be considered for the award.
  • Selection will be determined based upon student projects which significantly contribute to a program, policy, or project that seeks to improve the health among an underserved, vulnerable, or high-risk population in a culturally appropriate way and be evidenced based.
  • Preceptor feedback on the intern’s performance as reported on the intern’s midpoint and final evaluation will be considered.
  • Preference will be given to unpaid interns.
  • Award recipients will be recognized during the intern oral presentations.