By Chuck Wasserstrom
When Taylor Moore first began looking at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Master of Public Health (MPH) in Chronic Disease Prevention and Control program a few years ago, he had no idea how close he would be to having a front-row seat into the rapid-fire evolution of the global public health landscape.
It was early 2019, a year before anyone had heard of COVID-19, when Moore–then a senior at Tennessee State University–first set foot on the UTC campus. The MPH program had formally started admitting students in fall 2018, and Moore was trying to figure out if the fledgling program would be the right fit for him.
“When I came to Chattanooga, just talking to the professors and the staff, everyone made me feel welcome,” said Moore, who went on to receive his MPH degree in May 2021. “Everyone seemed genuine. They wanted me to succeed, and they wanted me to be able to find a career that I wanted to do. It was basically a no-brainer to go to UTC.”
Moore is now a health communications Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Oak Ridge Institute research participation programs are educational and training programs designed to provide students, recent graduates and university faculty the opportunity to participate in project-specific research, current public health research and developmental activities.
Moore said he first came to UTC to get a general outlook of the ins and outs of the field of public health, but the arrival of COVID-19 during his second semester on campus accelerated his career trajectory.
“I am grateful for this opportunity with the CDC,” Moore said. “I never thought that I would have an opportunity like this, especially this soon, being just 25 years old. It just goes to show that there are different ways to become successful, and there are different pathways that will lead you to your designated career.”
On a personal level, Moore took advantage of leadership development opportunities after joining the Public Health Student Association, serving as treasurer his first year on campus then as president his second.
On the pandemic front, he assisted the Hamilton County Health Department with its social media efforts and helped distribute packaged food to students in isolation. He spoke at targeted health strategy events in Chattanooga and Knoxville, advising and teaching methods to increase quality of life such as ways to exercise at home while social distancing.
Since beginning his one-year CDC fellowship in October 2021, Moore has worked on various communications topics such as Alzheimer’s disease, school health and epilepsy. He worked remotely from his home in the Nashville area before heading to CDC headquarters in Atlanta late last month.
Moore always had plans to pursue public health as his profession. That choice led him into paths he hadn’t considered.
“Coming here to UTC in the fall of 2019, I never imagined working at the CDC, much less just getting an interview from them a few months after graduating,” Moore said. “I don’t know where I’ll end up after the fellowship, but I plan on taking advantage of all the resources they provide me.”