Alumni Spotlight: Matt Feaster, MPH

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Matt Feaster, MPH ‘ 09, works as an epidemiologist for the City of Pasadena Public Health Department. In this Master of Public Health Student Association Q&A learn more about his education and career journey.

What does your organization do?

Since 1892, the Pasadena Public Health Department has been responsible for helping protect, maintain and improve the health of the Pasadena community. The City of Pasadena is one of only three cities in the state of California that maintains its own independent local health jurisdiction with responsibility for a wide variety of services that support the three core public health functions of assessment, policy development and assurance. The department is responsible for processing all death and birth certificates for the city, investigating reportable diseases and conditions, preparing for public health emergency response and recovery, and conducting tobacco prevention and control, nutrition education, substance abuse prevention, and more.

What is your organization’s mission/vision?

The City of Pasadena Public Health Department is dedicated to the physical, social and mental well-being of all who live, work, learn and play in Pasadena. The Pasadena Public Health Department will lead the city to be the model of health excellence and community wellness.

What is your role at your organization?

As the only epidemiologist for the city of Pasadena, I am responsible for the data assessment and evaluation for the department and, in some cases, aide with data collection with close community partners. I work closely with public health nurses and environmental health specialists, and together we are responsible for the collection and surveillance of reportable diseases and the investigation of outbreaks that occur within the city. I also regularly analyze our available surveillance including birth, death and disease data to identify trends in our community’s health.

How did the Master of Public Health program help prepare you for your career?

As a former MPH student in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics track, all of my coursework has been vital in my role at the Pasadena Public Health Department. Especially as health departments move towards national accreditation, it is rare when Health Promotion and Evaluation courses are not used. And of course, the epidemiology and statistics courses have been essential.

How did you find your first job after completing the MPH Program?

During my time at USC, I began as an unpaid intern at the City of Pasadena. I was able to leverage the unpaid internship into a paid internship, then a temporary city worker, and finally a full-time position. Throughout the way I took advantage of several opportunities to build my skill sets to make myself valuable to the organization, including writing grants and new funding opportunities, engaging with community partnerships, and developing presentations to city council that impact local policies and programming (i.e., cannabis regulations, vector control services, suicide prevention). I have been fortunate to work at a small health department that utilizes all of the skills I have curated during and after my MPH.

What are some opportunities/projects available to students and/or alumni at your organization?

The City of Pasadena Public Health Department is always looking for qualified, interested candidates in all realms of public health. Typically, the department opens up opportunities for summer internships that we promote at USC’s job fair. If you have strong interest in a specific field, visit our website to see a list of our services.

If you are interested in an internship, you can send an email to our intern coordinator, Monica DeanCollier, at MDean-Collier@cityofpasadena.net. Successful candidates typically include a well-written cover letter, a resume or curriculum vitae, and their specific interests, preferred hours or other
requirements.