Institute for Families in Society

Faculty and Staff

Alyssa Robillard

Title: Affiliate Faculty
Department: IHPR
Institute for Families in Society
Phone: 803-777-8132
Alyssa Robillard

Public health embodies the idea that there is no “them,” only “us” when it comes to health (Global Health Council).
That statement speaks first to my core belief in social justice as a foundation of public health, and second, that optimal health and health equity for all should be the goal. My interest in public health was first stoked when I learned about the disparate rates of cancer that existed along “cancer alley”—a stretch of road in Louisiana between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that I traveled regularly to visit family. It was alarming to me that people could experience a problem of this magnitude, yet see little done in response.

In what I refer to as my “public health epiphany,” my interests shifted from environmental health to health behavior, specifically health education and health promotion. As a health educator by training, I have come to appreciate most the ecological view of health that considers both internal and environmental factors associated with health problems—and the myriad ways we can begin to address them. In various roles ranging from data collector, health educator, project director, researcher, faculty, and consultant, I have had the opportunity to lead and be part of wonderful teams in many different settings, committed to promoting health equity. My topical experience has included sexual health, tuberculosis, cancer screening, and the health of incarcerated populations. Most of my efforts, however, have focused on HIV prevention, care, and treatment among groups where the burden of disease is comparatively higher and the web of social and structural determinants more complex. I am especially interested in the role of narratives in this and other areas of public health.

Currently, I am a Qualitative Research Associate on the Voices/Voces Project, alongside wonderful colleagues within the Institute for Families in Society, where we are working to document narratives highlighting the prenatal, pregnancy and postpartum care experiences of women in South Carolina covered by Medicaid. Existing inequities have been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID, and this is part of our exploration as well. The best part of this work is to hear directly from women (and their providers) about their personal experiences; the second best part will be to see these narratives used in ways that can help shape attitudes, practices and policies.

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, reading, paper crafting, and streaming old episodes of “A Different World” and “Cupcake Wars.”