Wildcat Tracks: Allyson Dalby ’16

Over the past two years, phrases like zoom call, social distancing, and remote learning have become common in our conversations. They may have started off sounding odd, but soon became part of our everyday speech. Allyson Dalby ’16 has experienced the same shift in regards to the awareness of her profession. “Hardly anyone knew what public health and epidemiology meant when I decided what I wanted to pursue,” Allyson said. “Now, these are extremely common words heard in the media. It has been fascinating to be studying these subjects during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the tragedies it has caused are heartbreaking, it is just another area I see God’s hand in my life. How incredible is it that I am graduating with a degree in a field that is so desperately needed right now?”

After graduating from Westminster, Allyson attended the University of Missouri and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science and a minor in Statistics and Health Informatics. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she attends Emory University working towards a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. Her interest in healthcare and statistics began while she was a student at Westminster. “In high school, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field in some capacity, but had no idea what that would look like,” Allyson said. “My senior year, I took AP Statistics with Mr. Van Gilst which sparked my love for the subject. Fast-forward to my sophomore year of college — I got the chance to serve with Global Brigades, a national organization in Honduras, where we assisted communities in establishing sustainable health systems and implemented prevention strategies to reduce infectious disease. Throughout the trip, I learned from professionals that prevention strategies were determined through statistical analyses and epidemiological methods.”

“Overall, my time at Westminster instilled in me that my walk with Christ is something that should infiltrate every aspect of my life and that we are called to be set apart, pointing people to Christ in all we do.”

Serving in Honduras opened Allyson’s eyes to the possibility that her career path could make a difference in people’s lives. “It was in the rural villages of Honduras that it all clicked. Public health and, more specifically, epidemiology was a way for me to combine my love for statistics and for infectious disease,” Allyson explained, “but more importantly, it was a field in which I felt I could continue to serve people professionally.”

Allyson’s years as a Westminster student helped establish her in both her career path and faith. “My time at Westminster is something that I will always be thankful for. The teachers and staff at Westminster truly shaped the foundation of who I am today. I was academically challenged to establish a strong work ethic and strive for excellence.”

Allyson with friends at Emory

Allyson is enjoying a nice balance of class, work, and volunteering at Emory University now. “As a student, every day looks slightly different. Right now, I work on a research team that is testing different methods to reduce infections in dialysis patients. Additionally, through a class at Emory, I am working with a team in Puerto Rico to improve their efforts to fight the pandemic,” she said. “Emory has a strong partnership with the CDC, so we have gotten the opportunity to work with them and their COVID-19 data on the pandemic response, whether that be through assisting with testing sites, conducting contact tracing, or promoting protective measures.” As challenging as classes and research are, she still finds time for fun with her friends from school and church. “Throughout the day my classmates and I study together and go on many walks around Atlanta to break up the day. Outside of school, I have the privilege of leading a group of seventh-grade girls at my church. I love exploring all Atlanta has to offer and almost always end my day with a workout.”

Once she completes her degree program, Allyson looks forward to using her gifts to help eradicate viruses. “Once I graduate, I hope to work with vulnerable populations to reduce infectious diseases in inner cities, hospitals, or on a global scale. Many infectious diseases are preventable and I would love to use my skills to eliminate some of the burden diseases cause. Eventually, it would be incredible to get the opportunity to work for a large public health organization such as the CDC or WHO.”

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