Scholarly in St. Louis


From left to right, Devon Dudley, Susan Baltes, Amber Matha and Thomas Cook, Ph.D.

Cheyanne Crum, Features editor

Members of the Public Health Department headed to St. Louis, Mo, on Saturday, April 9, for the St. Louis University Public Health Scholar Bowl for the fourth consecutive year.

Students Amber Matha, sophomore, Devon Dudley, senior, Susan Baltes, junior, and Cassandra Passe, sophomore, practiced and prepared for most of the spring semester for this event.

Baltes, Dudley and Matha, along with Thomas Cook, M.P.H., Ph.D., department chair and assistant professor of Public Health attended the Scholar Bowl. Passe was unable to attend this past weekend.

The students are chosen for the team by open practices and trivia nights.

“Usually the students who perform the best on trivia nights and are highly motivated are those who end up participating on the team. We do not make formal cuts, but instead let the leaders step up,” Cook said.

Baltes and Dudley are Public Health majors and returning Scholar Bowl participants. Matha is a new participant, a Biochemistry major, with a minor in Public Health.

“It seems to work itself out each year with some veterans returning along with new participants. We have both majors and minors on the team,” Cook said.

The Scholar Bowl has two parts, the first part is a jeopardy-like question asking session, referred to as the Quiz Bowl, and the second is a case study presentation.

“Last year we placed second in the case study, next to John Hopkins [University]. This year it was our goal to make it to the top once again,” Baltes said. The team had set high goals for this year’s Scholar Bowl.

Each year, around 10 to 15 schools participate it the Scholar Bowl in St. Louis.

“This year there [were] 13 teams participating from all over the U.S. including some top Public Health schools like John Hopkins,” Cook said. 13 teams is the most schools the Scholar Bowl has ever had participate.

These competitions are a way to gather the students outside of the class in an alcohol-free environment.

“Students have gathered in various spots around town for ribs, crepes and even bowling. When things get more serious, they order food in. Students are highly motivated and are always great ambassadors for Mercyhurst when we travel to St. Louis for the Competition,” Cook said.

Baltes, Matha, and Dudley left for St. Louis with the Case Study presentation on the importance of sleep on college campus. They had to make a campaign to promote sleep.

“Our presentation focused on the incoming freshman, in order to help guide them with utilizing healthy habits that turn into a positive lifestyle in achieving dreams,” Baltes said.

The presentation was focused on the positive influence of friendly competition to reinforce habits of getting enough sleep every night so that students are able to achieve in class and sports.

“Presenting our ideas to the judges reinforced my main passion for health education in the classroom,” Baltes said.

The Mercyhurst team beat John Hopkins in the Quiz Bowl round and in the Head to Head round making them the only team to beat John Hopkins. Unfortunately, John Hopkins beat them overall by one point. Neither of the schools placed, while University of Alabama at Birmingham took first.

Although the ’Hurst team did not place in the quiz bowl or the case study presentation, they are proud of what they have accomplished.

“Even though we didn’t make it to the top, I am very proud of what was achieved from presenting as well as in trivia,” Baltes said.

Cook was even proud of the accomplishments of the girls.

“Cook told the team that he feels that we performed the best we ever had. Which speaks volumes considering there were only three people on our team instead of five or six like last year,” Matha said.

Going forward, the Public Health Department plans to strive to improve the effectiveness of the case studies and expand their knowledge of public health, starting on Mercyhurst campus.

“With the work done, we plan to promote healthy sleep habits on campus as well as other campaigns to improve health of our fellow Lakers,” Baltes said.