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Shalon IrvingShalon Irving, MPH '09

Distinguished Alumna Award, posthumous

Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service

Shalon Irving was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, working as an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. She dedicated her life to understanding how structural inequality, trauma and violence affect health over a lifetime. Her specific focus was on the elimination of racial disparities in health through the development and implementation of community-based participatory approaches to health improvement, with specific emphasis on improving health outcomes for urban African–American women from their adolescence to middle-adulthood.

Irving was Purdue University's first recipient of a dual doctorate in sociology and gerontology, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Kellogg Health Scholars Program at Morgan State University. After receiving her MPH at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, she worked on the front lines helping at-risk infants, teenage girls, and mothers with HIV/AIDS. She was passionate about improving food and housing security to reduce people's risk for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Irving then joined the CDC's Division of Violence Prevention, refocusing on issues around trauma and domestic abuse — a mission she saw as "liberating" for African-American women. She also started a coaching business called Inclusivity Standard to advise young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who wanted to get into college or grad school and organizations seeking to become more diverse. 

Read more about her life and legacy