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Arnold School of Public Health


I Am Public Health: Joshua Peake

July 3, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Joshua Peake had built a satisfying career using his B.S. in Exercise Science degree from the Arnold School of Public Health to help patients with cardiac rehabilitation. But during his eight years at Fairfield Memorial Hospital, where he worked his way from an undergraduate intern to director of cardiac rehabilitation, something changed for the Winnsboro, South Carolina native.    

He had chosen Fairfield Memorial Hospital partly due to the Winnsboro-based facility’s proximity to family—a very important part of Peake’s life.  Little did he know, his family and work life would soon combine.

“My father struggled managing his diabetes, and it ultimately led to renal failure and heart disease, so I had the opportunity to work with my father as a patient in cardiac rehabilitation until he passed in 2012,” says Peake, who also grew extremely close to the other patients he helped during his tenure at Fairfield Memorial Hospital. “Witnessing the struggles of so many patients that had preventable and avoidable circumstances motivated me to begin an occupation that focused on chronic disease prevention.” 

In 2015, he took his first step toward getting on the front end of health by enrolling in the Arnold School’s Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior Professional Online Program. The program’s flexible, distance learning structure enabled Peake to continue working full-time and spend more time with family.

Witnessing the struggles of so many patients that had preventable and avoidable circumstances motivated me to begin an occupation that focused on chronic disease prevention.

-Joshua Peake, MPH in HPEB Student

“I would highly recommend the program to those who may be considering applying,” says Peake. “This program has been a great learning experience for me and has equipped me with numerous tools that I feel will be helpful as I progress in my career.”

Last fall, Peake took his second major step toward his career in public health when he accepted a position as manager of population health in Palmetto Health’s Office of Community Health. In this role, his responsibilities include the development and oversight of  the organization’s Community Population Health Plan in addition to managing the chronic disease intervention programs, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, Smoking Cessation and a new Hypertension Management Program.

“I am passionate about reaching underserved populations to offer educational programs aimed at preventing chronic disease,” says Peake, who will graduate later this year. “I plan to use my degree to implement and evaluate needed programs in our community.”  

In addition to his program and work, Peake somehow finds time to give back to the community. “I enjoy volunteering through our program at Palmetto Health: For Goodness Sake,” he says. “Often, when I volunteer at Transitions serving meals, I gain more than I am able to give. Volunteering helps keep me grounded and be conscious of the needs in our community. It is very rewarding to be able to give of my time to help others.”

This program has been a great learning experience for me and has equipped me with numerous tools that I feel will be helpful as I progress in my career.

-Joshua Peake, MPH in HPEB Student

He’s gained much of his inspiration from the three women in his life. “My mother always taught me what it means to work hard and never give up,” Peake says. “My wife, Rachel, and two-year-old daughter, Ava Grace, give me purpose and drive to always push forward and be the best person I can be.”