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New Mexico State University

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NMSU alum, CDC employee to speak on value of communication studies education

An alumna of New Mexico State University’s Department of Communication Studies will return to her alma mater to give a talk on how her education here led to success in her job working with the federal government.


Michelle Dixon Johns is an expert in health communication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication studies from NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, in 1997 and 1999 respectively.

Johns will give a talk to the NMSU community on Thursday, Sept. 21, from 4 to 5:50 p.m. in the College of Health and Social Services Auditorium. This talk will focus on how her education at NMSU prepared her for the many responsibilities she would have after she was hired by the CDC in 1999.

The CDC conducts critical science research and provides health information that protects the nation and world against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.

During her time at the CDC, Johns has been involved with various projects throughout the agency, with a particular focus on educational campaigns that address chronic disease prevention and health promotion issues.

Her primary area of expertise is in tobacco use prevention and control. She works in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health in health communication where her current area of focus is on the tobacco-related health disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native as well as Hispanic and Latino populations.

She was a contributor to the CDC’s National Tobacco Education campaign’s “Tips From Former Smokers,” which received numerous awards for public health impact and marketing excellence.

In 2015, Johns was the recipient of NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences Starry Night, Star of Communication Studies. She also serves on the board of advisers for NMSU’s Department of Communication Studies.

Johns credits much of her success to the lessons she learned while at NMSU, saying the coursework prepared her for the daily tasks and responsibilities she has at the CDC.

The Sept. 21 talk is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Department of Communication Studies.