College announces Dr. Amy Acton Future Leaders of Public Health Scholarship Fund

Scholarship will champion public health students who have overcome adversity


  • Denise Blough
September 25, 2020
Dr. Amy Acton
Dr. Amy Acton

A new scholarship fund established by grateful citizens across Ohio and beyond in honor of Ohio State public health alumna Dr. Amy Acton ’96 MPH will lift up students who have overcome adversity and aspire to follow in the footsteps of the great public health leaders before them. 

The College of Public Health announced the Dr. Amy Acton Future Leaders of Public Health Scholarship Fund on Sept. 24, the same day that Acton was honored with the Ohio State Alumni Association’s top award.

The scholarship will be awarded annually to one or more students with the intention of championing those who have overcome challenges and are eager to pursue a career in public health.

Acton has had her own experiences overcoming adversity. As a young child, after her parents’ divorce, she lived in 18 different places in 12 years, including a winter when she was homeless. Since then, she’s built a successful career and excelled as a public health leader.

Her career included a faculty position at Ohio State from 2012 to 2016, during which her teaching was praised by many and earned her the college’s Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Acton gained public visibility as director of the Ohio Department of Health during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she quickly became known for her clear, concise explanations of the science behind the virus, compassionate tone and sound guidance to Gov. Mike DeWine during his daily press conferences. Acton helped drive decisions around Ohio’s initial stay-at-home orders and physical distancing guidelines.

Her notable actions in this role contributed to her earning the 2020 Alumni Medalist award, the Ohio State Alumni Association’s top commendation.

“I will always believe and know that many, many lives have been saved because of the great advice from her and the great work she has done,” Gov. DeWine told the Alumni Association. “No one I’ve ever met has more passion for helping people, more passion for public health, than Dr. Amy Acton.”

After serving as ODH director, Acton briefly held the role of chief health advisor for the governor’s office. Now, she is director of the Columbus Foundation’s Kind Columbus initiative, dedicated to spreading the words and actions of kindness throughout central Ohio.

“I am deeply honored by the creation of this scholarship. My sincerest hope is that together we can lift up the next generation of public health leaders who bring not only their talent but also the authenticity of their life experience to the table,” Acton said. 

“As we embark on reimagining our public health system to be more modern and more just, we need young people who will fight heart and soul to ensure that all our citizens have the opportunity to flourish and contribute to their fullest potential.”

If you’d like to participate in honoring Acton with a gift to this scholarship fund, please visit this link.

Read more about Acton’s life and contributions in the Ohio State Alumni Magazine.


About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond.  The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy.   It is ranked 24th among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report, and also includes the top 7-ranked MHA degree program.  The College provides leadership and expertise for Ohio and the world through its Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Evaluation Studies (HOPES) and Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP).