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Graduate student receives Idaho Public Health Association’s excellence award

Chakoma Haidari

Chakoma Haidari, a graduate student in the Master of Health Science program at Boise State, has been selected for the Idaho Public Health Association’s 2020 Student Excellence Award. The award recognizes exceptional students who contribute to the health and well-being of their communities.

Haidari, who now considers Boise her hometown, was raised in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan before attending Boise State for her undergraduate degree. For nearly six years, she has worked in various roles for Central District Health. Currently, she is a health policy analyst, focusing on education and local policies centered around tobacco prevention, tobacco cessation and comprehensive cancer. In this role, she has implemented smoke-free parks and facilitated cancer coalitions. She also is passionate about understanding and addressing health disparities in communities.

“I think systems and environmental changes are important. However, if health equity is not considered, it can benefit certain groups but leave out those with the greatest need,” she said. “This equity is a passion of mine because it helps me understand health disparities and make sure programs and policies are designed in a way that give everyone an equal opportunity to live their best life.”

The Master of Health Science program prepares recent undergraduate students and established professionals for practice-based leadership positions in public health, other public and private health promoting agencies, and health care institutions. The degree provides the foundational knowledge and practical skills necessary for students to be effective strategists, advocates and administrators in a variety of public health and other health related settings.

According to Mike Mann, an associate professor and the director of the program, Haidari’s commitment to meeting people where they are so she can support them in their journey to health and well-being is “second to none.”

“Students from our program become public health leaders at all levels – local, state and national – and they work to protect and promote the health and well-being of individuals and communities as a whole,” Mann said. “Chakoma has demonstrated the capacity to perform and lead at the highest levels.”

Haidari credits Boise State for giving her the confidence to make real changes in the community through a better understanding of how to approach and deliver public health resources.

“I love public health and making a difference in my community,” Haidari said. “Through collaboration and partnerships, we can eliminate health disparities and create a healthier Idaho.”

Haidari also is a recipient of the Jim and Georgia Girvan Master of Health Science Scholarship. The scholarship was created by Jim, the former dean of the College of Health Sciences and a current board member of the Boise State University Foundation, and his wife. The duo hoped to train health professionals so that they may make a substantive contribution to the health of individuals, communities and the environment.

To make a gift to help student achievement in health sciences, contact Heather Jauregui, senior director of development, at