Fighting for a Healthier Utah
Peter Stoker puts his experience in public health to work
by Michelle Barber Lyhnakis (MPC ’06)
As the HIV outreach educator and epidemiologist for Salt Lake County, Peter Stoker (MPH ’13) has his work cut out for him. “My job is to seek out the undetected populations who are at risk for contracting the HIV virus,” Peter says. This is challenging work because these populations are often hidden in the shadows. “I do community education, testing, and advocacy to make sure people know that HIV is still around.”
He often has the difficult task of telling someone he or she has tested positive for HIV and making sure that person has the information and resources needed. It’s the challenge of public health work that excites Peter. “I really do love my job. It’s difficult, but hugely rewarding.”
Peter attended the University of Utah, where he majored in health promotion and education. “I had planned to go pre-med and become a doctor, but after taking some exploratory courses, I found the health-education route to be more suited to me,” Peter says. “I took classes that I would have never taken if I had gone the pre-med route.” Courses like business management and marketing have proven to be very valuable in his line of work.
“I knew I wanted to earn an advanced degree; then I found the public health program at Westminster,” Peter explains. “I was invited to attend an information session, where I learned that I could continue working full-time while going to school.” That, combined with engaging faculty and a warm, welcoming campus, made Westminster a top choice.
As a student, Peter took advantage of every opportunity he could to be involved with campus. He was president of the public-health-activities team and a graduate-student senator for ASWC; he participated in the Take a Griffin to Lunch program and was selected to represent his class as the student speaker at the Master’s of Public Health graduate hooding ceremony during commencement.
After graduating, Peter spent a year and a half with the Weber-Morgan Health Department in teen-pregnancy prevention, healthy-lifestyles programming, and suicide prevention. He also became involved with the Medical Reserves Corps, a group of volunteers dedicated to providing medical care, communication, and logistics during emergencies. Peter still works with this volunteer organization.
Peter says one of the most valuable courses he took at Westminster was program planning. “Learning how to plan a program, apply for a grant to fund the program, implement the program, and then evaluate it was one of the most impactful and applicable things I’ve learned. I would be lost without it, and in my work, it’s very clear who has this knowledge and who doesn’t.”
Peter also volunteers for the Utah Aids Foundation and serves on the board for OUTreach Resource Center and on the Westminster Alumni Board.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.