From Mason to Impact: A Community Health Alumni’s Journey into Public Health Advocacy

Blythe Dellinger
Blythe Dellinger

Blythe Dellinger’s journey into the field of public health began with a sense of uncertainty when she began her academic journey at George Mason University’s College of Public Health. It was a pivotal moment during an environmental health class field trip that sparked her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Global and Community Health and immerse herself in impactful initiatives that would define her public health trajectory.

“My roles as a Health Corps Fellow and MAT Community Health Worker are a testament to what I learned throughout my course,” she says, highlighting the transformative community at Mason.

During college, his journey came to a head when he took on important roles, serving as an undergraduate representative for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Coordinating Committee. This commitment has led to work as a peer intern with the Fairfax County Opioid and Substance Use Task Force, a substance use peer educator, and a trip leader for an alternative break focused on HIV and AIDS awareness, which Demonstrates deep dedication to social causes.

Explaining the essence of her involvement in various community health initiatives, she stressed, “Community health and volunteerism are about understanding, empathy and action.” This belief allowed Dellinger to secure an AmeriCorps fellowship within the Washington AIDS Partnership.

As a Health Corps Fellow with the Washington AIDS Partnership Health Corps Program from August 2022 to July 2023, Dellinger played a vital role in the HIPS MAT Clinic as a community health worker. They volunteered in the HIPS outreach van, performed required HIV and hepatitis C testing, and provided important information about HIV transmission and associated stigma.

She admits, “Mason and the College of Public Health provided me with the knowledge, confidence, and voice to advocate for the health of sexual and drug users.”

Dellinger’s role in the MAT clinic, which is a low-barrier clinical approach, changed her perspective, enhancing her qualities of compassion, empathy, and communication skills. However, the journey was not without challenges, as he encountered individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders and HIV, often attributing these difficult circumstances to systemic failures. Recognizing the impact of such experiences, Dellinger stressed the vital importance of self-care, relied on her supportive network, and maintained a journal to focus on the positive impact of her work.

Following the fellowship, Dellinger became the Data Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator at HIPS, an organization that promotes the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities affected by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. Is.

“The faculty and staff of the College of Public Health played a vital role in my development by providing guidance, advice, and unwavering encouragement,” she acknowledges. “My story is a chapter in the ongoing story of impact,” she adds, symbolizing the continuation of the positive change Masons are creating in its graduates.

The Washington AIDS Partnership’s impending completion of its 35-years of service to the DC community in 2023 added a poignant note for Dellinger. He highly recommended similar programs for interested students, emphasizing the invaluable experience gained in the public health field.

Looking ahead, Dellinger envisions a path of continued knowledge growth, higher education, and an enduring commitment to humanitarian endeavors. Her inspiring journey stands as a testament to personal growth, compassion, resilience and an unwavering dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of the individuals she serves.

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