Student Spotlight: Alison Braid, MPH – Public Health Program
Career change on the horizonTen years ago Alison started thinking about a career change. She tried going back to school, starting with a premedical science program as a precursor to medical school. Although she found the program challenging and very interesting, ultimately she decided not to pursue a degree in med school.
An interest in public health ignitedAfter a few years of putting her education on the back burner, it was a National Geographic article on food security that prompted Alison to think about switching careers into the public health realm. She knew she wanted to be involved in health care, so she spent some time researching different programs and eventually decided that going back to school for a Public Health degree was ideal. This would allow her to use her medical classes as a foil, but not necessarily be the focus of her career. As she approached her MPH, Alison decided to focus on the technical side of healthcare. She felt that there was an opportunity to improve how public health professionals incorporate technology into their daily tasks, and work more effectively using technology.
How Alison chose UNE Online for her MPHIn choosing the right school for her, Alison was looking for a program with plenty of flexibility so that she could continue to work full time while also managing a full course load. She considered taking brick and mortar classes in New York City, but the mandatory in-class times were too rigid for her schedule. So she started to look into online MPH programs with CEPH accreditation, and found UNE Online. While Alison was accepted to all of the schools she applied, she felt that UNE was the best fit and made the most sense for her. UNE was affordable and she liked the answers she received through multiple friendly and informative discussions with her enrollment counselor. Overall, she felt a connection to UNE and the MPH program.
Interpersonal relationships – a major concernAs she prepared to start in on her new online courses, one major concern Alison had was around interpersonal relationships. How would she connect with the other students in the program and the faculty, when she wouldn’t technically be “seeing” anyone? During the days before the actual online classes started, Alison was under the impression that students interacted through class discussion boards only. And of course those discussions are not live synchronous discussions – so how do you have meaningful interactions with people you can’t see, and are not even online at the same time you are? Alison is pleased to report that her worry is now a non-concern.
Great level of interactionsFrom the start, the students in Alison’s classes spoke outside the Blackboard classroom environment, formed study groups, and chatted online. Some students are even local to the NYC area, so they hold occasional outings and meetups to socialize. Additionally, Alison has been able to meet some of her classmates in person at a recent APHA conference. Because she feels strongly about building interpersonal relationships, Alison has found plenty of opportunities for relationship building outside of the classroom environment. High quality academic content in a program is essential, but good interpersonal relationships can also be very important to the entire online experience.
Involved with APHAUNE Online has a vibrant chapter of the APHA-SA, the American Public Health Association Student Association. The APHA-SA is open to all students at UNE, even beyond public health students. The UNE chapter is facilitated by a board, comprised of students from all over the country. Interestingly, not a single person on the board is based in Maine! Alison is the UNE APHA-SA President this year, and along with Vice President Melanie Rogers, Secretary Carley Anderson, Treasurer Clare O’Grady, and Campus Liaison Farzana Hussaini, she will be leading the effort of the organization to be involved in public-health causes. The student association meets every other month, with each meeting open to to all of those who wish to be involved. During meetings members present any research going on at UNE, discuss current global events like the effect of the Zika virus, and discuss their involvement in, or sponsorship of any events.
Upcoming APHA eventsSeptember is ‘Get Ready Month’ and the APHA-SA will be holding a webinar on personal emergency preparations, open to the general public. Another event they will be involved with this year is the ‘Out of the Darkness Walk’ which is an initiative to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Events like these enable the student body to come together as one, build relationships, and raise awareness for a common cause.
Connect on Social MediaThe APHA-SA at UNE is involved int he online conversation through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/uneaphasa/ and their Twitter account @UNE_APHA_SA. Alison also currently manages the social media campaign for the Public Health Association of New York City (PHANYC) an affiliate of the APHA, joining conversations locally, nationally, and globally.
Scholarship recipientAs a recipient of the 2016 Leadership Challenge Annual Meeting Scholarship from the APHA, Alison is very excited to have the opportunity to attend the 2016 APHA Annual Meeting in Denver this year. “Our point in time seems critical and potentially pivotal. This meeting is a great opportunity to meet people and learn what is pertinent in the field, providing a chance for discussion, innovation, and action.”
Key to successCurrently three-quarters through the program, Alison is able to look back and see what has worked for her and what hasn’t. She has found that the most crucial aspect of the program that has led to her success so far, has been the flexibility of the program. With so many obligations in everyone’s lives, including family obligations and crazy work schedules, she has found that the opportunity to be able to balance her life with her education, has been extremely valuable. She has found that her schedule has been hectic but manageable. School deadlines occur every week, but students can complete the assignments at any time during that week-long timeframe and are not limited to an in-class schedule. “Now that I’ve gone through the online program, brick and mortar would definitely not work for me. With online, I can still work and fulfill my obligations. I’m still pressed for time, but I can manage it. I can go to school and maintain my life at the same time. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”
To learn more about the MPH program at UNE Online, we welcome you to:
- Visit our website, online.une.edu
- Connect with an enrollment counselor.
- Reach out via email
- Call us at 1 (855) 325-0895
- Or visit us at the APHA Annual Meeting in Denver, at booth 401.