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Arnold School of Public Health

Doctoral graduate applies academic lessons daily as grants manager for SC DHEC

August 7, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Tramaine Paul McMullen’s first steps into the public health field were as a high school teacher in her hometown of Marietta, Georgia. She may not have realized it at the time, but the Shorter University graduate’s (B.S. in Psychology) role as an educator would provide the foundation for her future career.

“I was always interested in health, teaching and psychology,” McMullen says. “When I discovered a friend of mine was applying to a public health program, I did my research and applied as well.”

In 2010, McMullen completed a Master of Public Health from Morehouse School of Medicine. She enrolled in the Ph.D. in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior at the Arnold School that fall.

“UofSC was a top choice of mine,” she says. “I wanted to go to a school that had a great public health program in the Southeast.”

McMullen continued gaining practical experience through graduate assistantships related to research and evaluation, community engagement and public health practice, and teaching undergraduate courses. During the final stages of her program, she accepted a full-time position with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as a program evaluator. More recently, she took on the role of opioids grants manager for the Midlands Public Health Region.

“It is a great position where I can combine by love for addressing public health needs, research and project management,” McMullen says.

Some of her current projects involve working on collaborative writing teams and a reverse mentoring pilot project. Between her academic pursuits and works projects, McMullen has co-authored several conference abstracts and is working on manuscripts for publication as well.

One of her areas of interest is self-care for women. For example, she is currently part of a team conducting interviews to look at self-care and diabetes prevention among Black women. McMullen is particularly interested in physical activity, which she believes to be an indicator for self-care among women.

“As a mother and an African-American woman, I am also interested in how self-care activities are affected by my social role and culture,” she says.  

Among the faculty McMullen encountered during her time at the Arnold School, she points to Professor Emerita Ruth Saunders as an important mentor. “Dr. Saunders has been influential throughout my dissertation journey,” McMullen says. “Through her support and guidance, she has really helped me develop into the person I am today. I admire her public health career and how she works hard to deliver quality, whether it is a journal article or a painting.”

When McMullen is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and kids. “A great day for me is when I get to read a book and spend time with my family,” she says. 

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