ETSU public health student elected to national Rural Health Congress

Published 3:48 pm Friday, February 4, 2022

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JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University student Justin Kearley was elected as a 2022 student representative to the Rural Health Congress, the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) policy-making body.

Kearley, of Asheville, N.C., is a Master of Public Health candidate with a concentration in epidemiology.

The Rural Health Congress determines the association’s positions on public policy through a series of policy briefs and issue papers. In his new role, Kearley will represent students in the development of policy, attend regular meetings and conferences and advocate on behalf of rural health.

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“I was interested in this role because I have worked in rural health for several years in both research and community health,” said Kearley. “Through this work, I have gained a better sense of the unique challenges and opportunities of our rural communities. Growing up in Appalachia and doing advocacy work on behalf of our rural mountain communities is something I have always been passionate about. I’m excited to give back to the place that shaped who I am today.”

Kearley works as a graduate assistant at the ETSU Center for Rural Health Research. Housed in the ETSU College of Public Health, the Center for Rural Health Research works to improve health and well-being at the community, state, regional and national levels.

When he graduates in May 2022, Kearley said he plans to continue his work “to improve health in rural communities here at home.”

“We are proud of Justin and his commitment to serving rural communities across the nation,” said Michael Meit, co-director of the Center. “Justin’s passion for his work is clear, and I know that he will do a great job of representing both our region and our university.”