A Heart for Health
KSU Public Health student earns accolades
KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 26, 2019) — Kennesaw State University student Erica Lundak plans to dedicate her career to promoting health and preventing disease in communities. She already is building a healthy resume toward that goal.
Lundak, a University Honors Program student, is in the midst of two internships, one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one with WinShape Camps. Also, she has participated in conducting research relating to Parkinson’s disease, which she will present at a national conference KSU is hosting in April.
Lundak’s impressive college career recently earned her an honor from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. She was Kennesaw State’s representative at the Board of Regents’ 2019 Academic Recognition Day, at which one outstanding scholar from each USG institution was honored for classroom excellence and community involvement.
“Being chosen was not something I expected, but I was humbled and excited to be recognized and to represent KSU,” said Lundak, a senior majoring in public health education.
After graduating from high school in nearby Canton, Ga., Lundak wasn’t sure what college major she wanted to pursue. However, Lundak said she “knew KSU was a great school” because her sister Jessica, who graduated with a nursing degree in 2014, spoke highly of her alma mater.
Lundak discovered her passion as a sophomore when, as she explained, “I decided what I really want to do is help people and always have the opportunity to explore new pathways.” She was drawn to the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education program that had just been launched in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services.
Lundak is looking forward to graduating in May and is considering several possibilities, including trying to remain with the CDC or pursuing a Master’s in Public Health. She is interested in many areas of the public health field, including global health, epidemiology and community health.
“I really like the idea of going into a community and seeing what their health needs are, and then creating programs to address those needs,” Lundak said. “But public health is a very broad field and I’m interested in all aspects of it, so I’m keeping my eyes open and exploring opportunities as they come about.”
Another of Lundak’s interests is addressing health issues worldwide, which is her focus at the CDC. She is interning within the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, a unit dedicated to reducing mortality among immigrants, refugees and other globally mobile populations and preventing the introduction, transmission and spread of communicable diseases.
Meanwhile, a health concern much closer to home inspired Lundak’s research topic for her Public Health Research Methods class – Parkinson’s disease, the nervous system disorder one of her family members was diagnosed with four years ago. According to Lundak, staying physically active has helped the family member in maintaining balance, mobility and performing daily living activities while living with the disease.
During spring 2018, Lundak was a research assistant to professor James Annesi. The study moved research one step further in evaluating the potential benefits that physical activity can have on people with Parkinson’s disease or related symptoms; some factors affected included mood, sense of control over one’s health, and one’s belief of their ability to overcome barriers to exercising.
“The study did show some positive impacts for people who have Parkinson’s or show signs of Parkinson’s, so it’s kind of a stepping stone for even more studies to be done,” Lundak said. “The end goal is that physicians can confidently recommend this exercise program, as a supplement to traditional medical treatment, to keep people with Parkinson’s active.”
Lundak will present her work at the 2019 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which Kennesaw State will host April 11-13. More than 4,000 students from throughout the U.S. are expected to attend NCUR, the largest conference dedicated to undergraduate research in the country.
“I am really looking forward to it,” Lundak said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet how neat it will be to present research at a national conference such as NCUR. For now, I am looking forward to walking into an event where I can learn about the research being done in all the different fields. I know I will take a lot away from this experience.”
NCUR is one of two big events on the horizon for Lundak, who will spend eight weeks in Brazil this summer as part of WinShape Camps, her other current internship. She will lead a team in conducting camps for children about character, relationships and faith.
“We will have more than 1,000 campers over eight weeks, so it is a great opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives,” Lundak said. “It is a lot of fun – one of my favorite things to be involved with.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by Rob Witzel
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.