West Virginia native Emily Dodds is passionate about having a positive influence on her community. For the past year, the Advertising and Public Relations major has advanced pediatric health awareness in West Virginia through a grant-funded internship with the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Not only have I extensively expanded my knowledge on how to promote health in children, I have learned how to effectively connect with different types of audiences across the state,” Dodds said. “I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to play a role in achieving the Chapter’s goals of promoting and advancing the health of all children in West Virginia.”
Dodds has helped to strengthen the Chapter’s relationship with the pediatric healthcare community by growing their social media presence and developing written and digital content, including reinstating a quarterly newsletter. She has also worked on important vaccination campaigns, including the CDC’s Project Firstline initiative to increase infection control and prevention knowledge among healthcare providers and the West Virginia Center for Rural Health Development’s #CommunityImmunityWV project, which encourages West Virginians to vaccinate their children.
“The best part of my internship so far has been seeing the positive feedback on the work the Chapter is doing throughout the pediatric health care community in West Virginia,” Dodds said. “I have the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from some of the most passionate and talented pediatricians in the state, which is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
Dodds was recommended for the internship by Julia Fraustino, an assistant professor at the College of Media and the founding director of the Public Interest Communications (PIC) Lab. Dodds worked with Fraustino as an undergraduate research assistant supporting science communication for West Virginia’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The PIC Lab partners with several organizations throughout the state, including the WV Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, to disseminate important health information to West Virginia residents.
“Emily hit the ground running, immediately increasing the WVAAP's followers and engagement on social media by crafting posts and visuals to make child and teen health topics relatable and understandable,” said Fraustino, who helps to oversee Dodds’ internship duties. “Emily is a great example of what so many of our Reed College of Media and PIC Lab students do out in the field -- apply ethical strategic communication principles toward real-world social issues to improve lives and livelihoods in West Virginia and beyond.”
In addition to her internship, Dodds is in her fourth year with the Pride of West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band and is a piccolo section leader. After graduation, she hopes to continue to work in advocacy communications.
“Through my experiences with the WV Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WVU PIC Lab, I’ve learned how fulfilling it is to incorporate advocacy and compassion into your work,” Dodds said. “I hope to be able to use the strategic communication skills I’ve developed during my time at WVU to advocate for and advance the health and safety of vulnerable populations, specifically in West Virginia communities.”