Julie Grubaugh, MPH, CHES teaches the Introduction to Public Health (PUBH 201) course at the University of Tennessee, a course that serves more than 1,000 undergraduates annually. Her students create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video on a pressing public health issue of their choosing and have a tradition of winning the Tennessee Public Health Association’s (TPHA) annual Student Video Challenge.
From 2011-2020, Julie managed all of UT’s Master of Public Health student field placements. Nearly half of all students received paid internships, more than 30% were direct hires upon graduation and most others received job offers from contacts or skills developed during their internships.
To make this happen, Julie established workshops, networking, and other opportunities in collaboration with other faculty and the Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration to connect MPH students with potential employers and alumni of the program; and she set up a private LinkedIn Group comprised of more than a hundred MPH program alumni where students can “connect” with potential mentors and employers.
Julie also connects students with networking, skill, and resume building experiences at Knox County Health Department (KCHD) as part of UT’s Academic Health Department (AHD). From 2011 through 2018, Julie worked in a joint position with Knox County Health Department and UT Department of Public Health, which has resulted in student learning experiences, workforce development, and other mutually beneficial activities that support health department accreditation (PHAB).
So Julie is a connector. Even before her career in Public Health, she once spent a summer on a farm in Spain so she could learn Spanish and connect with Spanish-speaking peoples. In high school, because of an experience competing on her school’s Rock Climbing team against a team from the Tennessee School for the Deaf, she began to study American Sign Language so she could connect with this entirely new group of people. She pursued these studies in her undergraduate program and graduated to work as a nationally certified sign language interpreter for the University of Tennessee.
Julie’s colleagues at Knox County Health Department voted her the team member with the most “Pep,” like a Winnie-the-Pooh’s Tigger (“…cheerful, outgoing, competitive in a friendly way, with complete confidence in herself and others.”) She has volunteered teaching yoga to co-workers and regularly exercises with colleagues during lunch to build fitness and comradery.
And she is adventurous. For one summer experience during her undergraduate program, she flew to Vancouver, British Columbia on a student work visa with no job, and no place to stay. By the end of the first day, she found an eight-bedroom house with seven international people looking for a roommate; and she was hired on for two part time jobs to make up a forty-hour week. She attributes some of her self-confidence to early childhood experiences in martial arts. Her current adventures include playing acoustic guitar, song-writing and raising her two young children.