ACPHS In The News

New Grad Begins Public Health Career at ACPHS

Kaylee Stewa
May 20, 2024

When Kaylee Stewart ’24 was looking for a job she could do after graduation, she had a checklist in her head:  

__ Stay in the Albany area (see the next item)  

__ Be able to continue working on research with Associate Professor Dr. Stacy Pettigrew  

__ Have a direct impact on the community 

To say she found the perfect job is an understatement. Two days after graduation on May 11, Stewart moved into the vacant manager position at The Collaboratory, ACPHS’ public health resource in Albany’s South End. She will handle administrative functions that help programs with direct community impact run smoothly, including a program that helps residents manage their hypertension, free diabetes and cholesterol screenings, and initiatives like naloxone training connected to a new grant from Albany County’s Opioid Settlement Fund.  

And she reports directly to Dr. Pettigrew, The Collaboratory’s director, who could not be happier to have found such a job candidate. Stewart brings data management skills and attention to detail to the job, and she also relates well with employees and clients.   

“I feel very fortunate,” Dr. Pettigrew said.  

Pettigrew and Stewart exemplify the ideal mentor-mentee relationship. Pettigrew, Stewart’s academic advisor, met her in her first year at ACPHS and was quickly struck by the student’s intelligence, dedication to work and deep interest in public health. Stewart was wowed by Pettigrew’s credentials – both academic and community-based, including her founding of the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, an urban farm and educational site in the South End.  

Nearly four years later, the two calm, thoughtful women have an easy familiarity with each other, a trust that comes from mutual respect and knowing you can rely on the other person.  

Stewart graduated a week ago with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, even after increasing her academic workload over seven semesters to make up for a semester missed for family needs. And she worked at internships and jobs too.  

It was typical to be up at 3 a.m. handling assignments, Stewart said. Now, she’s adjusting to a standard Monday-to-Friday work schedule, with time for research and maybe even leisure in her off hours.  

On Friday, the end of her first week on the job, she was trying to figure out some mundane administrative tasks (what someone should do about a time sheet), as every manager must, but was also energetically recommending some new recruiting efforts.    

Let’s have a booth at Open House, she recommended to Pettigrew, so new students can be aware of the opportunities. Let’s require first-year public health students to visit us; maybe they’ll volunteer and develop valuable skills.  

“Look at her,” Pettigrew said proudly, “bringing this valuable student perspective.”