Casey Schumann received a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Genetics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1997. After graduation, she moved to New Jersey and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for seven years as a Microbiologist and then as a Project Manager. After moving back to Wisconsin and a brief stint in pharmaceutical sales, she entered the Masters of Science program within the UW Department of Population Health Sciences. During her two year MS program, she worked on several evaluation projects as a student researcher within the UW Population Health Institute. Casey’s Master Thesis involved evaluating the results of Movin’ Schools, a physical activity pilot program being implemented by the Department of Public Instruction in select Wisconsin elementary schools. Casey was a Population Health Service Fellow from 2006 through 2008 with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.
Upon completion of the Fellowship Program, she accepted a job doing epidemiology and data collection and analysis work as the Quality Assurance Coordinator within the Wisconsin Division of Public Health’s AIDS/HIV Program. Over the years her work has transitioned to primarily epidemiology and program evaluation, including conducting epidemiologic analyses and evaluation studies related to HIV and HIV care services; compiling, disseminating and using data for program and policy development aimed at improving HIV care services; and providing support and consultation to the AIDS/HIV Program regarding the development, implementation and maintenance of systems designed to manage, analyze, and evaluate HIV surveillance and HIV care services data.
Casey considers it a great career achievement to be asked to mentor students and Fellows. Since her own time in the Fellowship, she has had the opportunity to be the preceptor for two Fellows and has mentored several graduate and undergraduate students. It has been a very rewarding experience to mentor another public health professional. Hopefully past and future Fellowship graduates will have the opportunity to give back by mentoring a Fellow, student, intern, or other new public health professional. The time it takes is ALWAYS worth the effort.
For Casey, the most obvious impact of the Fellowship was access to her current job. Many Fellows, but not all, work short- or long-term within their placement site once the Fellowship is over. She was able to better compete for her position within the AIDS/HIV Program because the quality of her work was already known. The less tangible impacts of the Fellowship are that it allowed her to gain credibility by working on challenging, high profile work. It also allowed her to network and build relationships within her placement site, but also within the Wisconsin Population Health Institute, among other Fellows, and across organizations.
Casey started the Fellowship two months later than the rest of her cohort due to the birth of her first child. She now has two children, Noelle (7) and Wesley (4). Her daughter is very curious about how things work and will perhaps follow in her mother’s scientific footsteps.
Casey has some great advice for current or prospective Fellows: “Take the opportunity to explore any interests that you might have during your Fellowship and challenge yourself to take on even a small project that is outside of your comfort zone. It’s also important to use the experience to build new skills, as well as continuing to hone the skills that you already have. Use the time to network and build relationships that may benefit you while job hunting or for future collaborations.”