Upstate Medical student wins prestigious U.S. Public Health Service Award
Upstate Medical University medical student Sydney Russell Leed has received a 2019 U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Excellence in Public Health Award in recognition of her commitment and work to advance public health in communities and who exemplify the Public Health Service’s mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of our nation.
On behalf of the USPHS, Rear Admiral Michael Toedt, MD, chief medical officer of the Indian Health Service, presented the award to Russell Leed in a ceremony at the Health Sciences Library on the Upstate campus March 11.
Russell Leed, an MD/MPH candidate in her second year, has been active on and off campus in a variety of health justice and civic engagement efforts. She was one of 15 students who organized the first Health Justice at Upstate Conference, which was held in January; she also helped developed and maitain a community garden at the Rescue Mission Homeless shelter. Russell Leed also was instrumental in promoting voter education and registration in the local community in partnership with the local chapter of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
Russell Leed participated in the Women H.E.A.L (Health, Education and Learning) program at the Rescue Mission Alliance in Syracuse. The program sought to increase the capacity of the Rescue Mission to better meet the needs of the female residents by offering monthly, interactive group sessions.
She is an advocate for a single-payer health system and founded Upstate's chapter of Students for a National Health Program in 2016, and now serves on the board of the national organization, representing more than 70 chapters.
Russell Leed's outreach work was supported in part by Upstate Center for Civic Engagement, which provides opportunities for students to address health needs in the community through their work for human service agencies and other organizations.
The United States Public Health Service is led by the Surgeon General and is made up of more than 6,700 Commissioned Corps officers that are driven by a passion to serve the underserved and work on the front lines of public health—fighting disease, conducting research and caring for patients in underserved communities.