The spring 2017 commencement ceremony held extra significance at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington. Among the hundreds of graduates at the ceremony was the school’s first Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health graduate.
Daniel Sheppard took a circuitous route to his degree in Environmental Health. A Bloomington native, he started his college career at Ivy Tech then transferred to IUPUI to pursue a degree in Biology. As Sheppard took classes in his intended major, he discovered what a broad topic it was and decided he wanted to focus on something a little more specific.
“I came back to Bloomington and tried the Safety major at the School of Public Health. My advisor told me about the Environmental Health degree,” he said. “It interested me because it combined science and safety, and it turned out I really liked it.”
Environmental health is a public health field concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environments which affect air and water quality, food safety, workplace and other spaces. Environmental health practitioners work on the front lines in the battle to prevent and control disease and injuries caused by environmental conditions.
“The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health is an excellent career option for undergraduate students interested in health, science, and the environment and who want to apply their knowledge and skills to tackle current and emerging environmental health and sustainability issues that affect communities in Indiana and elsewhere,” said M. Margaret “Meg” Weigel, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the IU School of Public Health.
Throughout his time at the school, Sheppard took a variety of courses in Environmental Health topics and secured an internship to further his skills.
“The Environmental Health program opened up realms of possibilities – food safety, toxicology, air pollution – there’s a broad range of things to study,” Sheppard explained.
During his internship with the Brown County (Ind.) Health Department, he was able to gain experience in septic work, food safety and restaurant inspections, and water sampling. This internship, combined with his classroom experience, helped Sheppard quickly get his first job following graduation.
This summer, he began working as a Field Chemist at Heritage Environmental in Indianapolis. He’ll also be starting the School of Public Health’s online safety management graduate degree program this fall.
“The internship was a great experience and was a lot of variety,” he said. “Throughout my time at the school, Dr. [Jo Anna] Shimek was a tremendous help. She’s been there every step of the way, and I’m very thankful for her. And, my advisor Janet [Donley] helped and definitely influenced my success.”
“We are so proud of Daniel,” Weigel said. “We’re excited to have our first graduate and to continue educating future environmental health scholars, researchers and practitioners in our program.”