Icebreaker questions where are you joining us from?Equity, online learning and COVID-19 took center stage at this year’s National Student Meeting, where public health students from around the country logged on to hear from experts in the field.

“I am super excited for the National Student Meeting this year,” Emily Bartlett, chair of the APHA Student Assembly, told the APHA Annual Meeting Blog earlier this week. “We were able to get speakers that otherwise might not have been feasible — whether they’re front-line workers or just live really far away — but being virtual allowed us to expand the program.”

Julio Frenk, president of the University of Miami, was among the many panelists who spoke at today’s meeting. He connected with students over the hybrid learning models many are now using to stay safe during the pandemic.

“It’s not just putting lectures online…(we need to move) to a truly blended model,” Frenk told students during a panel on “Transitioning from On-Site Learning to an Online Platform.”

smiling woman Golden Gate Bridge pics of people on ZoomHe emphasized the need for future leaders to push for an evolution in how people learn — “you don’t suddenly become a leader; it’s a process,” he said.

Following the online learning discussion, speaker Monica McLemore, an associate professor at the University of California-San Francisco who moderated an APHA Advancing Racial Equity webinar on reproductive justice, helped lead a panel discussion on “Health Inequalities in Public Health.”

“I say provocative things because I believe provocative things,” McLemore told the students.

While the bulk of the student meeting was dedicated to presentations, attendees also were able to network with one another via breakout sessions and engage in a robust Q&A sessions both during the meeting and through social media, exchanging Twitter handles in the Zoom chat so they could all connect and continue the conversation.

“There is no change without challenge,” said undergraduate meeting attendee Syreeta Nolan.

Photos of an icebreaker question and Monica McLemore speaking during National Student Meeting by Aaron Warnick, courtesy of The Nation's Health