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APHA announces Student Champions for Climate Justice award winners

Date: Mar 23 2021

Contact: Media Relations

Washington, D.C. – The winners of APHA’s 2021 Student Champions for Climate Justice awards are helping to highlight the health equity impacts of climate change.

For the second year, APHA’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity selected five U.S. college and university student groups to create a virtual experience during National Public Health Week.

From an Indigenous plant walk to podcasts and panel discussions, these virtual experiences will underscore the important connections between climate change and health inequities. The experiences also will inspire campus-wide action to continue building an equitable climate-healthy and -just future. Each group will receive $500 to support their proposed virtual experiences.

The five Student Justice Champions for Climate Justice awardees and their proposed activities are:

Grad Valley State University
Grand Rapids, Michigan
(Erin Williams, Jazzmin McGuff, Emily Pokorski, Eilish McGhee, Hava Topolski)
A student-hosted podcast series and culminating live panel discussion for students, faculty and community members in the Grand Rapids area will highlight health disparities of individuals with disabilities during disasters.

Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
(Janae Alexander, Tyra Montour, Preslie Goocher)
A three-day student-hosted series. Day one: panel discussion by experts in environmental racism and climate justice. Day two: jeopardy game dedicated to climate change and its effects on Texas. Day three: a community trash clean-up lead by Eta Sigma Gamma (a national health education honor society) chapter members.

California State University of Northridge
San Jose, California
(Hayley Diep, Hanli Su)
A student-hosted panel discussion with stakeholders from two environmental disaster sites: Aliso Canyon and Sun Valley, both in the San Fernando Valley. Panelists will discuss how methane gas and natural gas storage facilities are hazards to human and environmental health.

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
St. Joseph, Minnesota
(Valerie Doze, Charly Frisk, Faith Gronda, Alex Arellano, Danee Voss)
Illuminating the intersection of Indigenous health sovereignty, medicinal plants, and climate change, a virtual plant walk will introduce the community to medicinal/cultural values of local species on campus. Guest speaker Hope Flanagan will discuss Indigenous health sovereignty and the impact of climate change in the state.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Aurora, Colorado
(Hannah Paul, Taylor South, Kriste Mills, Francesca Macaluso, Joshua Kirsch)
Native storytelling by Indigenous leaders in environmental and climate activism. Panelists will share their stories on how their work and their communities have been impacted by health inequities and injustices related to climate change and invite attendees to take action.

Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University New Haven, Connecticut
(Joie Akerson, Helena Randle and Emily Gentile)
Medical Students for a Sustainable Future will host a virtual symposium featuring a 40-min talk led by Yale University’s Jodi Sherman, an internationally recognized leader in the emerging field of sustainability in health care, followed by live and pre-recorded presentations on climate and health topics by health science students.

Increasing awareness of the health equity impacts of climate change among academic communities is essential to galvanizing action for the next generation of public health leaders. With a long-standing commitment to climate as a health issue, APHA’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity applies health equity principles to help shape climate policy, engagement and action to justly address the needs of all communities regardless of age, geography, race, income, gender and more.

"It is great to see the passion these students have for climate justice and their creativity to engage their academic communities, especially in our new virtual world,” said Evelyn Maldonado, the APHA center’s program associate. “While COVID-19 is keeping us physically apart, these events will surely bring academic communities together and inspire action on climate change and health equity."


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.