The Susan West Marmagas Public Health Scholarship will support public health students who are committed to improving health in rural Appalachian communities. The scholarship honors Professor Susan West Marmagas, a founding member of the Public Health Program, who was passionate about engaging communities and a champion for students, both professionally and personally. The scholarship will be awarded to students who demonstrate a commitment to 'start where the community is', a mantra Susan instilled in her students. Students from Appalachia, particularly those with financial need, will be given priority.
Susan West Marmagas, director of Virginia Tech’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program
Born and raised in Blacksburg, Susan joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2008 and played a significant role in the establishment of the university’s public health program and Center for Public Health Practice and Research (CPHPR). She served as assistant director and interim director of the MPH program before being named director in 2017. In addition to teaching community health education courses in the public health program, Susan led an interprofessionalism course on public health and medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
Susan West Marmagas, associate professor of practice
Susan's more than 15 years of experience in the national public health field, most notably addressing how environmental factors affect the health of women and children, provided countless experiences in policy and practice she shared with her students. She held leadership positions with the Collaborative on Health and Environment at Commonweal, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the National Environmental Education Foundation, and the Children’s Environmental Health Network. Her career focused on engaging health professionals and scientists in protective public policy, facilitating strategic planning discussions across the health field, and implementing evidence-based policy campaigns. She also conducted interdisciplinary research on human and environmental health in Central Appalachia and beyond.
Susan testified before the U.S. Congress and served as media spokesperson on national issues such as health risks from fish consumption, mercury pollution, and children’s health. She served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, co-chairing its Regulatory Work Group. Susan also demonstrated her commitment to public health through her work in the American Public Health Association, holding several leadership positions, including Chair of the Environmental Health Section, Chair of the Executive Board, and serving on the Joint Policy Committee/Science Board. She also served as a site visitor for the Council on Education for Public Health and a Fellow with the National Public Health Leadership Institute.
Susan received her bachelor’s degree from Earlham College and her MPH degree with a concentration in community health education from University of California at Berkeley.