Public Health Buckeyes: Tierra Hummons

HBHP student blends public health, the arts

Kristen Mitchell
Tierrra Hummons

Tierra Hummons, a MPH student in health behavior and health promotion, is a self-published poet spending her summer interning with Franklin County Public Health. 

This summer you’ve been working with Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) as a community tobacco prevention intern. How has that work given you a deeper understanding of the public health concepts you’ve learned in the classroom?

The work I’ve done with FCPH has given me a deeper understanding of the public health concepts I’ve learned in the classroom by having first-hand experience on how behaviors of individuals eventually impact the lives of others. For example, smoking is an individual choice, but it eventually jeopardizes the health of others through second and third-hand smoke exposure, making smoke-free policies beneficial. I was unaware of third-hand smoke exposure until I began working at FCPH. It was another reminder of how important the work in the public health field truly is.

What other public health issues are you passionate about?

Mental health is my top interest. I am very passionate about healing and advocating for the social, emotional and mental well-being of our communities. Health is not the mere absence of disease and does not stop at the physical well-being of an individual. To properly function and continue to progress in all areas of our lives, we must have a healthy state of mind. Mental health is health!

You’ve self-published three poetry books. What draws you to this type of creative work?

I had the wonderful opportunity to self-publish three poetry books by the age of 25 filled with poems and motivational speeches I’ve written throughout the years. I was blessed with many gifts and writing poetry happens to be one of them. I am an alumna of Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, where my focus was dance and theatre. Thus, my creative roots run deep. It has been two years since my last poetry book was self-published, and I have some great plans in the future for bridging the arts with public health.

Tell us about those plans. How do you see yourself blending public health and the arts?

Without giving too much information too soon, I plan to open my own business that creates a safe space dedicated to improving the overall well-being of youth in central Ohio through creative and performing arts with a primary focus on mental health. 

What do you hope for the future of public health?

I hope to see more facilities for mental health and counseling services in local communities as it is greatly needed. I also hope for more funding to properly compensate public health professionals who have greatly contributed to the improvement of overall health outcomes across the U.S. and continues to make a difference in the lives of others.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing an MPH?

The advice I have for students interested in pursuing an MPH is to seek an academic advisor who is committed to the success of their advisees in and outside of the classroom. I cannot stress enough how instrumental my advisor, Professor Gail Kaye, has been in helping me get closer to the finish line of earning my master’s degree. I faced some unexpected and devastating challenges throughout my graduate school experience. I am extremely appreciative of Professor Kaye’s continuous efforts to help me overcome adversity.


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 22nd among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report, and also includes the top 8-ranked MHA degree program.  The college’s epidemiology specialty was ranked 19th. 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).