A Credible Contribution

Charlie Plain | September 12, 2014

Most students have felt at some point like they’re writing a book when doing work for a class. In the case of School of Public Health graduate Linda Kahn it turned out to actually be true. That’s because she had the special opportunity as a student to help professors Jim Begun and Jan Malcolm write a textbook based on their public health leadership class.

Contributing author student Linda Kahn. Photo Credit: Joe Finnegan
Contributing student author Linda Kahn.
Photo Credit: Joe Finnegan

The book, Leading Public Health: A Competency Framework, was recently published and, in it, the authors give exceptional credit to Kahn.

“I feel lucky to have been able to do this,” says Kahn, a 2014 graduate of the executive program in public health practice.  “Jan and Jim are terrific to work for and creating a book was a fun process to learn about.”

A Book of Course

SPH students routinely find ways to work with professors on their courses and research. Most get involved by working as teaching or research assistants, or through fellowships. Some also connect with on-campus working groups, where faculty and students tackle topics through a variety of research, teaching and community outreach programs.

In Kahn’s case, Begun and Malcolm hired her as a research assistant after they were impressed by the enthusiasm and intelligence she showed during class.

“We wanted to borrow Linda’s brain to make improvements to both the course and to push ourselves to write a textbook for the course,” says Begun.

As the work commenced, Begun and Malcolm became increasingly drawn to the quality of Kahn’s writing.

“Her writing is concise and well-referenced, logical and academic, and she’s a natural story teller,” says Begun.

Kahn was eventually assigned to write the book’s case studies because Begun and Malcolm thought she’d add life to the stories that they simply couldn’t.

Over the course of writing the book, Kahn’s dedicated work ethic became obvious to the instructors as well.

“Linda is so responsive–always willing to help and very timely with her assignments,” says Malcolm. “I had a hard time keeping up with her!”

Recognition in a Significant Fashion 

When the book was finished, Begun and Malcolm were so pleased with Kahn’s “above and beyond” effort that they felt she deserved special recognition for her work.

“She is more so a contributing author than a research assistant,” says Begun. “So, we asked the publisher to recognize her in some significant fashion.”

The result was a page in the front of book thanking Kahn for her work and naming her as a contributing author.

“I love writing and… and to be truly valued as a collaborator is really great,” says Kahn.

Kahn continues to work as a research assistant for Begun and is currently developing in-person training modules and case resources for use with the book.

~ Post by Charlie Plain 

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