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Alumni

Alumnus joins CDC’s COVID-19 communications team

Brad Firchow '19

Brad Firchow ’19

Oglethorpe alumnus Bradley Firchow ’19 was recently hired as a contractor for Eagle Global Scientific to work as a Health Communications Specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Firchow previously held a two-year internship at the CDC, where he conducted child development research and psychometric tool development and validation under Oglethorpe alumna Dr. Jennifer (Wyatt) Kaminski.

After graduation, he was hired as a program coordinator at Childspring International, an Atlanta nonprofit that provides life-changing surgeries and medical care for children in developing countries.

Firchow’s former work at the CDC was focused on writing for fellow academics using specific scientific terms, but his new position on the communications team working directly on the COVID-19 emergency response requires him to now write for the general public using plain language and expressions.

“It’s definitely been a lot of switching gears and learning how to be an effective communicator on social media to make sure we are getting across those high yield messages from physicians and scientists that the public needs access to.”

“The most rewarding feeling is when work that I’ve done is materialized by people adopting public health best practices– so whenever I go to the grocery store and I see someone practicing social distancing or wearing a cloth-based covering, for example. It’s a really cool feeling knowing I had a stake in that.”

The Biopsychology major transitioned into this new role after Professor of Biology Dr. Karen Schmeichel reached out and connected him with alumna Mallory Pomales.

“Dr. Schmeichel is definitely a professor that’s in every student’s corner,” Firchow said. “She wants to see students thrive during their time at Oglethorpe and afterward.”

The alumnus also credits his Public Health Concentration for preparing him for his new position. Specifically, a speaker series that focused on Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) taught him the foundation for much of his current work with the CDC, he says.

While at Oglethorpe, Firchow served as Student Government Association President, a Resident Assistant, and Honor Council representative. He was also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, and Oglethorpe University Coexist.

“Having a background that acknowledges diversity and inclusion that we have at Oglethorpe gives you a broader perspective on how to communicate and target messages to broader and more specific audiences,” Firchow reflected about his time in Coexist.

Eventually, Firchow hopes to attend medical school and practice medicine in under-served rural communities.

Note: All statements given by Brad Firchow are his own words and personal opinions. For any official news and information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 response and developments, please visit www.cdc.gov.

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