November 30, 2018

John B. Waller Jr., Dr.PH., and Menthele (Mikki) Waller Endowed Scholarship awarded to Master of Public Health student

From left: Mikki Waller, Tsveti Markova, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., Denise Jones, Tonia Jones, Anthony Jones, Herbert Smitherman, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P.

The John B. Waller Jr., Dr.PH., and Menthele (Mikki) Waller Endowed Scholarship for M.P.H. Students was recently awarded to Tonia Jones, a Master of Public Health student in the Wayne State University Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences.

"I was very excited, happy and honored," Jones said.

Dr. Waller, who established the foundation of the School of Medicine's Master of Public Health program, was considered by many the community face of public health in metropolitan Detroit, serving as Detroit's director of Public Health and chair of the then-Department of Community Medicine. He was one of the nation's first researchers to treat interpersonal violence as a public health issue. His focus on population-based epidemiology also encompassed maternal-child health, chronic and disabling conditions, and health disparities.

At the time of his death in 2006, he was director of the WSU Institute for Maternal and Child Health, director of the WSU Division for the Prevention and Control of Interpersonal Violence, and senior vice president for Urban and Community Health for the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University Community Health Institute. He served as a public health professional for more than 40 years.

Jones, an Oak Park native, recently completed her public health practicum portion of the degree, working at The Youth Connection in Detroit, where she created a "Healthy Home" manual for adolescents and young adults aging out of the foster system.

"I really love giving back to the community, serving the underserved and helping others," she said.

She is in the final year of her graduate degree. "It came at the right time. It means a lot to me both financially and as a growing professional to be honored for doing work that I love to do and will continue to do," she added.

Jones was recognized at a Nov. 28 gathering attended by her parents, along with Mrs. Mikki Waller as the honored guest.

Dr. Waller established the Master of Public Health program in the WSU School of Medicine. Before 2016, the first year of the Waller Endowed Scholarship, the Waller family and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences provided an annual John B. Waller Student Achievement Award.

"Every year you make me part of this. It makes me feel happy, very happy," Mrs. Waller said. "It just makes me so proud."

The WSU School of Medicine celebration's speakers included Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences Chair and Professor Tsveti Markova, M.D., F.A.A.F.P.; and Herbert Smitherman, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., vice dean of Diversity and Community Affairs.

"He was a rare combination of excellence, caring for people and political saavy," said Dr. Smitherman, his mentee. "The legacy of this award is extremely important."

As the M.P.H. program continues to grow, Dr. Markova noted, "We appreciate the generosity of the Waller family and their contribution to the advancement of the values of Detroit urban health."
The next Waller Endowed Scholarship will be awarded in April.

To learn more about advancing Dr. Waller's legacy and support M.P.H. students in conducting leading-edge public health research and practice in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, contact Patty Paquin at or 313-577-0026.