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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

  • 2021
    • Zhannae Cummings – interned with Ms. Bilqis
      Zhannae Cummings

      Zhannae Cummings

      Amatus-Salaam, the Wellness Coordinator at the University of Tennessee Center for Health Education and Wellness. She demonstrated leadership by creating and leading a PowerPoint presentation series on mental health among UTK college students based on campus-wide survey data; developing evaluation assessment tools for the #LIFT_ME workshop series, which addresses the mental health for students of color; and revising and finalizing a grant proposal submission for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Equity grant for a mental health program for students of color at UTK. Zhannae’s projects seek to improve the mental health of students of color. Students of color are less likely to seek mental-health treatment, and Zhannae’s projects will contribute to how UTK can better support the mental health needs of students of color.

      Emily Wells

      Emily Wells

    • Emily Wells – interned with Dr. Shari Rajoo, the Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Population Health Services/Behavioral Health at Ballad Health. She demonstrated leadership by developing a patient journey of care model for staff; developing a simplified version of the patient journey of care model for patients; and developing an implicit bias and cultural competence training for staff. Emily’s projects seek to improve the quality of care provided to patients residing in a rural setting. Emily’s products will help the staff at Ballad Health understand the social and cultural needs of the patient, improve the patient experience, and provide higher quality care.
  • 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 healthdepartment’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 andinterpreted 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.