Alumni spotlight: Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins headshot

Sarah Collins, Ph.D., is an assistant teaching professor and the undergraduate community health program director in the Department of Health, Sport & Exercise Sciences, or HSES, at the University of Kansas. She earned her Bachelor of Public Health, Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Ph.D. in Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences, from the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions. Her research interests reside in public health curriculum, instruction and pedagogy, where she focuses on utilizing qualitative research methods to explore diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism within higher education. Her dissertation was titled, “Investigating the Role of Critical Race Theory and Antiracism within Public Health Education,” which is complementary to several other manuscripts that she has successfully published in Frontiers in Public Health, Frontiers in Education, and Pedagogical Research.

Additionally, Collins has held a variety of community-based positions such as working at Suwannee River Area Health Education Center as a Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator and later transitioning to the role of Health Educator & Special Projects Coordinator. As the Health Educator & Special Projects Coordinator, she managed a Florida Department of Health, Office of Minority Health grant that sought to educate ethnic and racial minority senior adults living in Bradford and Union counties on their oral health. Collins continued her community work with the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, educating and engaging with mothers and fathers in the local Jacksonville, Florida community about maternal and child health.

Within the classroom, it is Collins’ position to celebrate the values of human diversity and pledge to co-construct and co-sustain an inclusive learning environment that empowers students to engage in safe and brave conversations regarding diversity, social justice, lived experiences, and critical action to achieve health equity for all populations. Within her current role, she can operationalize this mission through her instruction of several community health courses, including “Introduction to Community Health, Peer Health Education, Program Planning, Foundations of Health Education,” and “Community Health Internship.” These efforts have been recognized, as she is the 2023-2024 recipient of the HSES Teacher of the Year award.

Within Dr. Collins’s role as Program Director, she is currently working toward making the Community Health major at KU more inclusive and accessible to other interests, such as pre-medicine, pre-physician assistant, pre-dentistry and pre-occupational therapy. She ultimately hopes to introduce and instill community health concepts of health equity and social justice to future medical providers and rehabilitation specialists to further expand community health’s mission beyond community-based initiatives, but also into clinical spaces.