Allegheny Alumna Tackles Tuberculosis Prevention as CDC Fellow

Jessica Margraf ’21 says her time at Allegheny College shaped her interests in global public health. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in global health studies and environmental studies, and a minor in psychology, she’s putting those interests to work as a 2021 Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Margraf’s fellowship will provide her with two years of experience performing on-the-ground work at her placement site and additional training through the CDC. She says Allegheny’s Global Health Studies Department played a big role in where she is today.

Jesse Margraf
Jessica Margraf

“The Global Health Studies Department provided me with unique experiences such as working alongside Professor Caryl Waggett on the 2021 Teach Global Health workshop on curriculum and course design, targeted to faculty, staff and administrators at undergraduate serving institutions,” Margraf says. “Professor Waggett provided me with an immense amount of mentorship and inspired me to set my sights on big things.”

As a community engagement project for an environmental justice class, Margraf coordinated a homelessness awareness event in the Meadville community. She says this experience was not only rewarding, but relates to the work that she is doing today with the CDC.

Margraf has been assigned to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health working on Tuberculosis (TB) prevention. In this role, she performs cluster investigations to analyze and evaluate TB clusters and outbreaks to uncover epidemiological links between cases. She also conducts patient interviews in English and Spanish to determine sources of TB and to track transmission.

Margraf also assists with TB screening interventions designed to provide testing, services, and educational information to individuals and groups at high risk for developing TB disease, primarily for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Margraf says she is especially looking forward to the mid-program training that will take place at CDC headquarters in Atlanta. This training is designed to build upon her work in the field, foster networking among peers and other professionals, and provide associates with additional guidance on their journeys as public health professionals.

While she is not certain of her next career move following her fellowship, Margraf is interested in continuing work with the CDC and is open to exploring opportunities at other federal agencies. 

“My current interests lie in global and community health, emergency/disaster preparedness and response, environmental health, and environmental justice,” she says.

Making the cross-country move, Margraf has embraced unique opportunities in Los Angeles. For example, she has volunteered with the 2022 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, the largest census for people experiencing homelessness in the nation. She assisted with the count in Downtown Los Angeles, home to the infamous Skid Row, an area considered to be the epicenter of the city’s homelessness crisis. 

Taking advantage of what L.A. has to offer in her spare time, Margraf even had the opportunity to be an extra in a music video for one of her favorite artists. She also has joined various running clubs, and she enjoys exploring the numerous attractions in the area.