College of Public Health students graduating

Alumni Spotlight: Nicholas Hines












Degree program: MPH, 2010
Concentration: Health Behavior
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Undergraduate Institution: Prairie View A&M University
Current Title(s): Core Violence and Injury Prevention (Core VIPP) Grant Coordinator - Hawaii State Department of Health, Injury Prevention and Control Section

What are a few of your primary responsibilities?
I am in a privileged capacity, responsible for meeting the objectives of the Core Violence and Injury Prevention (Core VIPP) grant, focused on building and sustaining Hawaii's statewide injury prevention infrastructure. In cooperation with my wonderful team of experts, I coordinate four grant focus areas (i.e., traffic safety, screening and brief intervention, suicide prevention, and prescription drug overdose prevention). My responsibilities include: planning, monitoring and evaluation of focus area interventions; meeting facilitation and technical assistance for the Injury Prevention Advisory Committee (IPAC); injury prevention promotion through communication networks; core competency in-service trainings for staff and key groups; inform decision makers on best available data, so that they may independently support and advocate for legislative and organizational injury prevention policy; and programmatic grant updates and budget reports for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

What drew you to a career in public health?
As an undergraduate initially interested clinical dietetics, changing individual level health outcomes felt like an unrealistic uphill battle. Like many other young professionals, I wanted to change the world but needed more preparation. After a little research, studying public health felt like a very fitting opportunity to have a population level impact.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
Perhaps the most enjoyable part about my career involves the process of systems thinking. Almost every day, I have the opportunity to provide technical assistance and facilitate dialogue, that ultimately informs innovative ways to leverage programmatic, policy and fiscal challenges that strengthen our ongoing capacity to prevent injury in Hawaii.

What public health issue concerns you most?
What’s great about our profession is that public health issues warrant us to consider all levels of the socio-ecological model, to address risk factors, support protective factors, and close the gap in health inequities. I am concerned with ensuring that we all frame public health issues with proper holistic interventions that require commitment from every angle. Injury prevention, environmental conditions, and chronic diseases equally concern me because of their interconnection. That is the beauty in what we do; I can’t recall a day when one issue concerned me most.

What do you like to do for fun?
My wife and I enjoy hiking the trails in Hawaii, and naturally photography became my hobby. The photos weren’t perfect, but we felt something special in them that needed exploring. We wanted to capture hunks of light from our weekend excursions, in a way that inspires excitement among our friends and family. After one year of living in Honolulu, a little investment and research, we registered our Hawaii business: Nicholas Hines Photography!  Being a photographer is seriously awesome; the environment and the beautiful people make it easy. In some ways our photography business keeps my public health work grounded. There are always multiple exposure settings in a camera to render the same photo, reminding me to always consider mixed methods of bringing light to a public health issue. 

Do you have a favorite UK memory to share?
If the awesome curriculum wasn’t inspiring enough, it was the embrace from faculty and staff. A few unforgettable moments in 2009 include: the time Ms. Carter and I personally walked nearly half the campus to get me oriented; the class invitation to meet and greet health behavior faculty at the house of Dr. Swanson; eggs from the personal farm of Dr. Crosby; briefly helping Dr. Harris with the Using Medications Safely education program; and the collection of yard sign data for Toyota Worksite Smoking Program with Dr. Alexander. The touch of care and relationship building was well received and is everlasting.

What was the most important thing you learned at the College of Public Health?
Embracing partnerships, questioning the norm, feeding knowledge and starving ignorance can help you fly above the clouds for a proper public health view, positioning you to truly see blue.

What advice do you have for others who are interested in pursuing a career in public health?
In the face of strong criticism, tighten the grip on your ideas; dive deep into your public health daydreams, because you might be the only torchbearer. Your public health focus may change; exploit those opportunities to learn new skills. If you feel your application is not qualified, get in line with everyone else still willing to commit; your odds of success will be zero if you fail to submit.