Woman smiling in a long, bright hallway
May. 8, 2024

We are proud to highlight one School of Public Health graduate student who will graduate this spring as part of UNLV's Class of 2024. To read more about other amazing SPH graduates, visit our Instagram page.

Alyx Phillips will graduate this spring from the UNLV School of Public Health with her doctorate of philosophy in Public Health. She earned her undergraduate degree in public health from Youngstown State University and her master’s degree in public health from UNLV in 2018.

Before finishing her master’s degree in 2018, Phillips began working at Three Square as the organization's first Senior Hunger Programs manager.

“My role as the Senior Hunger Programs manager was the opportunity of a lifetime to end senior hunger in Southern Nevada.This experience had a profound impact on me and reminded me every day why I chose to be in the public health field,” Phillips said. “I had the opportunity to develop and launch new, dignified programs informed by seniors, build capacity within the community, and raise awareness around the realities of senior hunger.” 

One of Phillips’ goals within her work at Three Square was to shift the culture of aging in Southern Nevada. However, she realized quickly that programming alone couldn’t solve this problem, specific systems must be in place to ensure everyone has the opportunity to age in their own chosen environment. This mindset change led Phillips down the path of pursuing her Ph.D. in public health so she could connect research to the community to tackle complex issues from a systems-level approach.

Phillips began pursuing her doctoral degree in January 2020, less than two months before the global shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was a challenging time as I was constantly worried about seniors in the community,” Phillips said. “ Are they staying safe at home? Do they have enough to eat? Do they have the resources that they need? Do they know how to get help? These questions and so many more would keep me up at night. More importantly, these questions helped me critically think through what to do next to help.”

Once the pandemic began Phillips and her team sprang into action, determined to ensure seniors in Las Vegas were protected. The way seniors received groceries changed overnight.

“Thinking of all of the lessons learned from UNLV and the School of Public Health, I knew it was time to be relentless in how we protected and advocated for seniors while bringing in cross-sector partners to help work towards a solution, " Phillips said.

Phillips and her team put into action emergency response home delivery efforts with the help of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC).  Additionally, the Senior Hunger Programs team delivered directly to the homes of those in need and then hired five dedicated home delivery drivers. 

“Although we were moving quickly and seniors safely had access to food, I never forgot the words of so many professors about the importance of building scalable, sustainable programs,” said Phillips. “ As a result, Senior Hunger Programs worked with agency partners in our network to build capacity, learned best practices about home delivery, and grew to be sustainable partners. As Senior Hunger Programs transitioned out of emergency response efforts, our temporary direct service program was fully adopted by agency partners. I am grateful that many of these partners continued to serve seniors for years to come.”

As the pandemic continued it became clear to Phillips that there was a connection between food access and transportation for seniors. To understand the issue better, Phillips’ dissertation explored the potential association for food insecurity and transportation insecurity for older adults in Clark County while considering racial and ethnic differences. She found that there is a strong association between food insecurity and transportation insecurity, which has produced actionable items for the community to address this issue. 

In addition to her work and research with the senior population, Phillips also served as a part-time instructor in the School of Public Health and has served as an internship preceptor since 2019 managing dozens of public health interns. In 2020-2021, she was a research assistant for the Nevada Exploratory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center with Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo and UNLV’s Department of Brain Health. And, in 2022, she was accepted into the Jameson Fellowship, which is a comprehensive leadership program that fosters collaboration amongst various social sectors to construct impactful community change.

In 2023, Phillips was promoted at Three Square as the first director of grants administration. In her role she oversees all incoming and outgoing grant funds. She says this new role brings together many of her favorite things – programming, research, and capacity building. She enjoys collaborating inside and outside of Three Square to strategize how best to leverage resources within the community. After graduation she will continue in this role, as well as continuing to teach as a part-time instructor at the School of Public Health.