There were 26 master's and five doctoral degree graduates in Spring 2015. This group consisted of 25 MPH and one MS graduate and three DrPH and two PhD graduates. Best wishes to you all!

The 2015 Delta Omega Induction Ceremony and Distinguished Lecture was held on Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Following the ceremony, distinguished lecturer, Dr. Lars Alfredsson, from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden presented a talk on "Epidemiology as a tool to understand interactions between exposure, genetics, and immunophenotype" with examples from rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

The Spring OPHS Undergraduate Summit was held in the BioMedical Sciences Building D-Courtyard on Thursday, April 30th 2015. This semester, 19 students presented posters of their Applied Learning Experience (APLE) project proposals as part of their undergraduate capstone experience.

To request an undergraduate student, please see the APLE Student Request Form.

Hui Ola Pono has been busy this spring, from the spring BBQ to kick off the spring semester, promoting safe sex on Valentine's Day at the Condom Fair at Campus Center, and events during National Public Health Week, they even found the time enjoy the Makapu‘u lighthouse.

For more information on Hui events, check out their year in review and "like" them on Facebook.

Photo: BA Public Health students Aprilei Ramirez, Ronnie Vazquez, and Lindsey Green join Hui President, Ronald Filomeno to promote safe sex at the UHM Condom Fair.
Guess which faculty...
Rode a Schwinn 10 speed bicycle from San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA?

Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the answer.


Did you know? No one has ever graduated from the University of Hawai‘i with an "unaccredited" degree in public health!

That's because UH has maintained accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the body that accredits schools and programs of public health. For several decades, we were accredited as a "school" of public health. And, since 2002, we've been accredited as a "program" of public health..

We were last accredited by CEPH in 2007 for 7 years (the longest length of time awarded). In September 2014, we hosted site visitors from CEPH. Many thanks for to the students, alumni, and community stakeholders who met with the CEPH site visitors, including Therese Argoud, Ivan Chik, Lehua Choy, Chevelle Davis, May Rose Dela Cruz, Jessica Fabrigas, Ron Filomeno, Don Hayes, Robert Hirokawa, Lisa Kehl, Samantha Kodama, Thomas Lee, Tonya Lowery St. John, Wes Lum, Heather Lusk, Kris Qureshi, Katie Richards, Michael Sanes, Ranjani Starr, Jill Tamashiro, JoAnn Tsark, and Jessica Yamauchi. 

Of the 26 criteria for accreditation, we fully met 21 of them and partially met 5 of them.  We have been working hard on those 5 areas flagged for improvement. We submitted an update on our excellent progress in these areas in April 2015. CEPH will make a final determination on our status when they meet in June.

Thanks, as always, for our support of public health education in Hawai‘i.

Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH

Director and Professor


May Rose Dela Cruz, DrPH
“Mama, are you done with your desperation?” That’s what my youngest daughter, Nalani, asked almost every day for one month before my dissertation defense. I’m not quite sure how she heard of the word “desperation,” but she described that frantic period perfectly. 

It was only during the final months of writing my dissertation my daughters saw me working on my laptop. The years preceding this phase, I would wait until they went to bed and I was finished with the housework (usually by 9:00 pm) before I did schoolwork until 1:00 am, every night. Many would call it dedication and some would call it madness. Maybe it was a mix of the two, but it was all part of being a mom and a student. My husband, Raoul, was an active U.S. Coast Guardsman and was stationed away, so I tried my very best to be attentive to my children during the day and getting my DrPH degree, the “other child,” at night.  It was a balancing act, but we were committed to make it work.

I was no spring chicken compared to many of the doctoral students.  I took the long, scenic route to the DrPH program.  Before going back for my DrPH, I had a family and built my research experience.   I got the research bug working in a honeybee lab as an UH undergraduate.  I then worked at the UH Cancer Center for 11 ½ years managing research projects and concurrently received my MPH.  I am now working at ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network conducting community-based participatory research (CBPR), advocating for public health policies, and continuing my dissertation work on increasing the human papillomavirus (HPV) uptake with 11 to 18 year olds through parental education.  I plan to stay in Hawai‘i to continue to conduct research with the community in decreasing cancer health disparities in the Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and Pacific Islander populations. 

As I’ve mentioned, it was a long, scenic route. I could not have done it without the support of Dr. Kathryn Braun, faculty, and staff of UH’s Office of Public Health Studies, the ‘Imi Hale ‘ohana,  my dissertation committee members (especially cheerleader extraordinaire and chair, Dr. Cheryl Albright), fellow DrPHers, and most importantly, family and friends.  Mahalo from the bottom of my grateful heart.

Photo: May Rose Dela Cruz and family at Spring Commencement.

Michelle Tagorda, MPH
Michelle Tagorda was born in Hilo, Hawai‘i and is a graduate of Kea‘au High School where she ran track, played soccer, competed in science fair and was an active member of student body government, civic club, math league and national honor society. Michelle earned her BS in psychology and BA in biology from UH Manoa, while remaining active as a New Student Orientation Leader, Access to College Excellence peer mentor and a peer advisor at the Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center. She was also a member of the Pre-Medical Association, Psi Chi Honor Society, Mortar Board Honor Society and Office of Multicultural Student Services: Bin-I Program. Throughout the majority of her undergraduate years and into her first year as a graduate student, Michelle was also part of the Campus Center Board.

During her time as an MPH student, Michelle has worked hard to help develop, execute, and support our new Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Public Health degree in her capacity as the OPHS Undergraduate Academic Advisor. She has tirelessly dedicated herself to the service of both undergraduate and graduate students through academic advising and peer mentorship. She has also inspired many students at all levels to pursue rewarding careers in public health and beyond.

Michelle graduated this May with her MPH in Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. She is currently the Student Regent on the UH Board of Regents, was the former media coordinator for the public health student organization, Hui Ola Pono, and remains active in the Hawaii Public Health Association. Her MPH practicum involved collaboration with the Center for Rural Health Studies at UH Hilo and OPHS faculty, Dr. Claudio Nigg, and focused on measuring and understanding cultural issues. During her time as an MPH student, she also assisted the Manoa Peer Advisors as the program assistant, and volunteered with the Hawai‘i Primary Care Association and Hawai‘i Department of Health to develop an educational toolkit for the film Ola. Michelle is also part of the Health Behavior Change Research Workgroup, working on the Waipahu Health Action Research Training project, where she supports high school seniors in facilitating classroom activities on physical activity and healthy nutrition as preventative measures for obesity. 

Following graduation, and over the next academic year, Michelle will continue to support our OPHS B.A. students as Undergraduate Academic Advisor, will be working with the Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services as the Tobacco Outreach and Education Program Assistant, and plans to apply for medical school the following year. After medical school, she aspires to work as a primary care physician in a rural community health setting in Hawai‘i. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys playing basketball, running at Ala Moana Beach Park, reading and journal writing.

Photo: Michelle Tagorda at Spring Commencement.

Chevelle Davis, BA Candidate
Chevelle Davis is a local girl who grew up on the leeward coast chasing the sun with salt and sand in her hair. She graduated from Leeward Community College with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and is currently an Honors student pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Public Health while holding a full-time job and remaining active in student events. For her Applied Learning Experience, Chevelle’s research project is focusing on factors that influence obstetric delivery decision-making among women with limited English proficiency (LEP), with help and support from Dr. Tetine Sentell and the Sentell Research Group.

This summer, Chevelle was selected to participate in the Mahina project- an international indigenous health research-training program in New Zealand. The program focuses on the development of students entering into biomedical or behavioral science health research careers. After graduation in May 2016, Chevelle plans to apply into the Graduate Entry Program of Nursing at UH Manoa to pursue a career as a doctor of nursing practice.

Photo: Chevelle Davis at the Honors Fall Forum.
Chad Noble-Tabio (MPH '14) is a Global Health Corps Fellow working in Malawi as a Monitoring & Evaluation and Communication Officer. His work tracks the organization's projects and identifies any gaps, shortfalls, or recommendations for meeting targets while ensuring that they are capturing and measuring impact at all levels of project implementation. Misty Pacheco (DrPH '12) is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Exercise Science at UH Hilo where she teaches courses in the Health Promotion Track. Congratulations to Kimberly Takata (MPH '14), 63rd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen. Jill Tamashiro (MPH '10) is a Public Health Educator at the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention and Education Program. Kimiko Wilson (MPH '14) is a Women's Health Support Services Case Manager at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center where she provides services for at-risk women who receive prenatal care to ensure a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and to reduce incidence rates of fetal and infant death, maternal mortality, low birth-weigh, and pre-term labor.

You can read additional profiles on our Alumni page.

We love hearing from our alumni! Please keep us up-to-date on new addresses, emails, employment, etc. Update your information at
Dr. Tetine Sentell is an Associate Professor in Health Policy and Management in the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her research focuses on racial/ethnic health disparities especially related to communication factors such as literacy and English language proficiency across various health outcomes, including maternal health care quality, mental illness, and chronic disease. 

Dr. Sentell received a PhD in Health Services and Policy Analysis from the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley and was a NIMH Mental Health Services Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Sentell is currently the PI for a 5-year study funded by the NIMHD under the Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research concerning racial/ethnic differences in preventable hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations and for an AHRQ R21 considering maternal quality information for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, especially those with limited English proficiency and low health literacy. She recently completed an NCI R03 considering disparities in cancer screenings among Asian Americans by health literacy and language. Dr. Sentell teaches Introduction to U.S. Health Care Services and Introduction to Health Policy and advises students. Dr. Sentell and her husband have two fabulous children, ages 8 and 12, and one giant puppy.

Photo: Mary Guo, UH MPH graduate and Junior Specialist in OPHS, and Dr. Tetine Sentell, of the Sentell Research Group, present a poster at the 2014 He Huliau Conference.

Patient navigators help reduce cancer screening disparities on Molokai

Cross-sectional analysis of low health literacy and cancer screening among Chinese Americans

New study on understanding public knowledge, attitude and practice regarding current air pollution and health effect on children in Shanghai

High rates of Native Hawaiian and older Japanese adults hospitalized with dementia in Hawai‘i

Isolation and characterization of newly isolated promoter gene from white shrimp

New study on the effect of social support on life quality of HIV/AIDS patients

Potentially preventable hospitalizations for congestive heart failure among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Hawai‘i

Maternal quality and safety outcomes for Asians and Pacific Islanders in Hawai‘i: an observational study from five years of statewide data
Director of OPHS: Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH
Associate Director of OPHS: Al Katz, MD, MPH

Undergraduate Chair: Denise Nelson-Hurwitz, PhD
Master's Degree Graduate Chair: Al Katz, MD, MPH
DrPH Graduate Chair: Kathryn L. Braun, DrPH
PhD Graduate Chair: Eric Hurwitz, DC, PhD

Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Master of Public Health (MPH)
Master of Science (MS)
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Epidemiology (MPH, MS, PhD)
Health Policy and Management (MPH)
Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health (MPH)
Social and Behavioral Health Sciences (MPH)
Community-Based and Translational Research (DrPH)
With your support, we can continue to move forward toward our goal of becoming a top-ranked public health program. Your gift will:
  • Help students attend and present at conferences
  • Go abroad for practicum or applied learning experiences
  • Provide tuition assistance
  • Promote a sense of community among our students and faculty

Dr. Katz and two friends made the ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over one week!
Copyright © 2015 Office of Public Health Studies, All rights reserved.

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