Changing the world...One leader at a time

I've had the privilege of being involved with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ambassador Program since its creation in 2010. The CDC Foundation has managed this unique partnership between the TMCF and CDC with the goal of increasing CDC employment opportunities for students and graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and enhancing the capacity of TMCF to support CDC's public health objectives. The program has been a huge success.

The Student Ambassador Program brings undergraduate and graduate students from TMCF schools to CDC for two and a half days of training and shadowing experiences with CDC employees–accountants, attorneys, engineers, information technology specialists, medical officers and others. Once trained, the ambassadors serve as positive, energetic, well-informed public health mentors and role models to their campus peers and the community at large.

Survey results from the 2013 training workshop:

  • The class was 52% female and 48% male
  • 95% said they attended the training for career development opportunities
  • 81% said they were satisfied with the workshop and training content
  • 96% said they were satisfied with their CDC mentor shadowing experience

An eight-week paid summer internship at CDC further enhances and rounds out the public health experience for TMCF ambassadors. This summer, we welcomed 20 new ambassadors for internships at CDC June through August 2013. At the completion of their internships, CDC Ambassadors return to their TMCF member institutions as public health advocates trained to promote health and disease prevention in their communities.

Meet the Class of 2013: (Click here to view the photo gallery.)

Class of 2013 Students at the main CDC campus

Hear what the students have to say about the experience:

Allison Hester, Howard University, Washington, DC

"This program gave me great insight into what it truly means to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I learned the proper way to spread awareness about public health, not only to my community, but globally. Thank you for this great opportunity!"

Laurel Huffman, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD

"As a second year attendee, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of CDC and the programs they offer to students throughout the world. The opportunity to surround myself with like-minded individuals who share a common love for public health awareness was priceless. My experience with TMCF and CDC has opened several doors for me over the past years. I honestly can say that the CDC/TMCF Student Ambassador Training and Workshop has made, and will continue to make a great impact in my life."

Christopher Miller, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis, MO

"One of the most interesting things that occurred during this training was the experience of shadowing my mentor and seeing first-hand the different departments of CDC. I gained hands-on experience with the Office of Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) under the CDC umbrella, which is where I participated in my internship this summer. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life."

Learn more about the Thurgood Marshall College Fund at

Bernice Bronson, MPH, is a senior program officer for the CDC Foundation.