Student Spotlight: Toho Soma, Health Informatics Program

Toho Soma Toho Soma is the Interim Director and Senior Research Associate in the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation at UNE. He is also the supervisor of a team of evaluators in the Center. Although he is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Health Informatics, his background is in public health. For ten years prior to coming to UNE, he worked within the City of Portland’s Public Health Division, the last two of which he was the Director of Public Health. Here, he talks about what motivated him to earn his master’s in health informatics, his experience in the program, and some words of wisdom for students considering this online graduate degree path. What encouraged you to pursue your master’s Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Adanna Hackett, Science Prerequisite Program

Adanna Hackett, PA Adanna has always had a passion for her family and medicine. These two passions led her to realize that becoming a physician assistant, or PA, was the right profession for her. Adanna documented her PA school journey in a series of YouTube Videos as “Adanna the PA” where she also gives advice to other pre-PA’s. Continue reading to learn more about Adanna’s journey from pursuing PA school, to enrolling in her UNE prerequisites, to educating other pre-PA students, to receiving her white coat and graduating PA school! Can you tell me a little about yourself and what made you pursue physician assistant school? I’m the youngest of 4, a wife of 10 years, a mother of two beautiful little girls,… Read more >>
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Alumni Spotlight: Monica Huelga, MPH

Monica Huelga, who completed her Master of Public Health practicum presentation on environmental health literacy, stands in front of the Pacific ocean with a sailboat in the background In celebration of our Graduate Programs in Public Health’s successful CEPH reaccreditation, we sat down with Monica Huelga, MPH ’18, who found herself at UNE Online rather serendipitously. Monica is passionate about the power of communication to promote global health and equality. She completed her applied practice experience on environmental health literacy at the non-profit MEarth Carmel while working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Congratulations again on graduating last year! What inspired you to go for your MPH in the first place? I’ve always been drawn to health and distance studies. I received my undergrad from University of Washington in medical anthropology and global health, and I was trying to look at health in the bigger picture, the cultural perspective… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Frank Myers, MSW Program

Frank Myers Master of Social Work Frank Myers is a student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of New England. We spoke with Frank recently about what attracted him to the field of social work, his experience in the UNE Online program, and what drove him to create and host an outreach event for homeless people in his area. What got you interested in becoming a social worker? I was homeless and on my own when I was 11, so the homeless population has always been in my heart. For the past three years now I’ve been working full time with the homeless, but really I’ve been working with the homeless for pretty much all my life. I try to help out… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Justin Kenney, Science Prerequisite Program

Headshot of Justin Kenney, who transitioned from music school to medical school by taking online prerequisite courses through UNE Online. Ever since he can remember, Justin has always wanted to be a doctor–but his exceptional musical talent pulled him in a different direction after high school. Justin accepted a scholarship to study classical music at Vanderbilt University, where he graduated in 2014 with a BA in Classical Music. Prior to graduation, Justin started to realize that he couldn’t ignore his draw to the medical field, and soon he decided to pursue his childhood ambition of being a doctor. Continue reading to learn more about Justin’s journey from music major to studying for the MCAT, and all the online prerequisite courses for medical school he took in between. You must be pretty talented if you went to college on a music… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight, Jeffrey L. Brown, Ed.D. Program

Jeffrey Brown, Chief Information Officer, Martin's Point Healthcare, Ed.D. in Transformative Leadership candidate at UNE Online Jeffrey is currently in his third executive officer role as the Chief Information Officer for Martin’s Point Healthcare. When he felt that he’d reached a growth plateau, he took a year to research before choosing UNE’s Ed.D. to combine leadership skill acquisition, applied science, and applied research.

“The way each class builds on the next within the program, it literally all comes back to myself as a leader in my organization. I’ve experienced rapid-cycle development, seemingly on a weekly basis. Because of this program, I feel that I’ve accelerated my leadership thinking, comfort, and capability by leaps and bounds over the last two years. I can’t say enough about it. It’s been a remarkable experience.”
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Student Spotlight: Stephanie N. Marcotte, Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Stephanie Marcotte, an Ed.D. Student at UNE Online, holds multiple leadership roles Stephanie Marcotte is a student in the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program at the College of Graduate and Professional Studies here at the University of New England. She talks about her experience as an online student, how her educational leadership roles have developed throughout her time in the UNE Ed.D. program, and how her identity as a leader has changed throughout the program. What are your current leadership roles? Like many adjunct professors around the country, I work multiple jobs. While I believe in the establishment of full-time benefited teaching opportunities, I have learned a lot from wearing many hats. Currently, I am an adjunct professor of ESL within a credit-bearing community college academic ESL program, a teacher-trainer, a union… Read more >>
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Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Petrin, MSW Program

Nicole Petrin, social work mentor, with penguins Nicole Petrin is a student in the Master of Social Work program at UNE Online. She has her undergraduate degree in social work, works in the field, and is also very active as a mentor for rising social workers. She just recently returned from an international social work conference in South Africa, and she shares her experiences with us here. Can you tell me a bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Social Work? I am originally from Rhode Island, where during my childhood and adolescence I was a very active member of Girl Scouts, even going on to earn the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award. My early exposure to… Read more >>
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Alumni Spotlight: Mike Wilber, Ed.D.

Selfie of Mike Wilber, Ed.D. Mike is an Adult Basic Education Instructor at the Delaware Department of Education Adult and Prison Education Resources Division in Wilmington, Delaware, helping inmates earn their GEDs and learn job skills. He is also a GED Instructor in the Adult Education Division of James H. Groves Adult High School, and received the 2018 Region II Teacher Of the Year award for his diligent and compassionate work.

“I enjoy helping people recognize that they have dignity just because they exist, and nobody has the right to take that away from them. When you’re in our learning environment classroom, it’s a safe zone, and we can speak openly and respectfully about anything that we want to. That’s the way it should be. You never know when or how you’re going to touch a life, but you know for sure that you’re going to. It’s not only about being a teacher, it’s about humbling yourself so that others can rise above.”
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Ambassador Spotlight: Emily Bartlett, MPH Program

Emily Bartlett, MPH Student UNE Online Ambassadors have been recognized by the College of Graduate and Professional Studies for being exemplary students and enthusiastic members of the UNE Online community. UNE Online Ambassadors serve as liaisons between our extended community and UNE Online, setting a precedent and standard for what it means to be a UNE Online student and community member. Emily Bartlett is a public health student and noted UNE Online Ambassador. Can you tell me a little about your background, and why you chose to earn your MPH at UNE Online? I’m from Maine, so I’ve known about UNE for a long time now. I got my undergraduate degree at The University of King’s College in Nova Scotia, majoring in International Development… Read more >>
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Ambassador Spotlight: Janet Quiring – Health Informatics Program

Student Spotlight Janet Quiring Health Informatics program Janet Quiring is a student in the Master of Science in Health Informatics program here at UNE Online. We spoke with her recently about her thoughts on the program, how she leveraged her strengths to find her practicum placement, and what aspects of real-life cybersecurity her practicum is exposing her to. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Health Informatics? I’ve had a career in the pharmaceutical industry for many years now. The industry is great, and I’ve enjoyed it, but at some point, you step back and look at how the market is changing. I’ve seen the whole dynamic of medicine shift, and I felt that I… Read more >>
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Alumni Spotlight: Rachael Flaxman, Education Program

Rachael Flaxman is an elementary school teacher in Maine and a student in our online MSEd program. We celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week by speaking with some of our students who have dedicated their professional lives to education. Teachers make a profound impact on the lives they touch, so we want to honor some of these very special teachers who are also our students, and who are making a difference every single day in their classroom. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Education? I was a little bit later coming to teaching. I didn’t start teaching until I was about 30. We lived in California… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Dr. Puneet Saini, MPH Program

Dr. Puneet Saini Student in the Master of Public Health MPH program at UNE Online Dr. Puneet Saini is a native of Madison, WI, and a second-year MPH student at UNE Online. Having completed his M.D., he is looking to complement and add more value to his education, and also delve more deeply into the realms of public administration and policy-making in order to bring about change on a global level. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Public Health? I was born in America and come from a multi-cultural family. Growing up in this diverse mix of different ethnicities and cultures made me very aware of the world, and I learned early on to respect other people’s values, ideas, and ways of life.… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Kylie Bragdon, Ed.D. Program

Kylie Bragdon Ed.D. student A native of both the seemingly-opposing worlds of academia and lobstering, Kylie recently joined the Maine Ocean School as Executive Director and serves as chair of the board of selectman in Winter Harbor. After completing her master’s degree, she said decided to pursue the Ed.D because she wanted to facilitate change on a grander scale.

“I began my Ed.D. with the general intention of pursuing a topic that would allow me to help the community I love. In the initial phases of this project, I already knew a lot about the industry and the current lobstermen. What I came up against was a lack of existing research. I wanted to pursue a topic related to leadership or education within the lobstering industry, but I didn’t have any studies to start with. So I started with a tiny idea, and I had to go through an intense process to build out my research question and then narrow it down.”
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Ambassador Spotlight: Jacqueta Miles, MSW Program

Jacqueta Miles MSW Student Jacqueta Miles is a student in the Master of Social Work program at UNE Online. Despite a number of challenges, she never gave up on the pursuit of her Master’s degree and her commitment to the field of social work. Read her story, and see what advice she has for incoming students. What encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Social Work? Growing up, I lived between my mom’s and my grandmother’s houses. My grandmother took me, my sisters, and my cousins in – we all grew up pretty much like sisters. She’s was always teaching us to help, and so growing up, I discovered that I have a heart for people. I love to help. I was in the… Read more >>
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Ambassador Spotlight: Melanie Berdyck, MSAN Program

Melanie Berdyck Melanie Berdyck is a dietitian and student in the UNE Online Master’s of Science in Applied Nutrition program. We spoke to Melanie recently about her work, her online graduate school experience, and her thoughts about the Applied Nutrition program. What encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Applied Nutrition? I earned my Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics in 2008, and I’ve been working in the field as a dietitian for about ten years now. Most of the people I work with have advanced degrees, and I’ve always had the feeling that there was so much more to learn – so I decided to go back to school. I figure that I have about another 40 years or so working in… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Stephanie N. Brown, Ed.D. Program

Stephanie Brown Stephanie is an adjunct English as a Second Language (ESL) professor, a Fulbright Advisor, the President-Elect of the Northern New England chapter of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (NNETESOL), and the Reviews Editor for the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL). Her passion for the advancement of ESL led her to UNE's online Ed.D.

“Due to the current state of ESL, I know that I need to do more and learn more in order to help create change. My students have been through countless hardships, many of which I couldn’t even fathom. They deserve more. My desire to be a good educator, leader, and advocate drove me to pursue a doctoral degree with a focus on educational and transformative leadership.”
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Spotlight: Dr. Joel Lowsky, Ed.D.

Dr. Joel Lowsky, Ed.D. Graduate After an eight-month volunteer stint at an HIV community center in Namibia, Africa, Joel left corporate life to embrace his newfound love of the field of education technology. He’s now responsible for planning and implementing educational technology projects that improve teaching, learning, and working at an independent high school in Massachusetts.

"I wanted to work in education, but not necessarily as a teacher. And if you’re if you’re not on the classroom side, in order to advance professionally, one needs to take a leadership route. I had been moving up in leadership roles, and I needed to take the next step. I had also started thinking about a possible dissertation subject, and I was really attracted to the idea of fleshing out the concept with my own research."
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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Vicki Rusbult, Ed.D. – Education Program

Dr. Vicki Rusbult, Ed.D. Vicki wanted to take on structured research to provide insight into factors contributing to the transportation gap in rural Maine. She was later invited to present the findings from her dissertation at the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) National Regional Transportation Conference. She’s now participating in statewide public transportation planning groups to further spread her discoveries, and even created a partnership to expand broadband internet capacity to rural Maine communities.

“I thought the field of Education would be more heavily represented among my Ed.D. classmates, but that wasn’t the case at all. While there were a significant amount of educators as I expected, we also had many professionals from a variety of industries, representing a large spectrum of professional backgrounds.”
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Student Spotlight: Jackson Long – Applied Nutrition Program

Jackson Long, Student in the Master of Science in Applied Nutrition program Jackson Long, a Master of Science in Applied Nutrition student from Boulder, Colorado, is passionate about plant-based eating and living a healthy lifestyle. Jackson’s interest in nutrition was piqued during his time as a competitive cyclist, as he sought out the optimal diet for his athletic performance. His initial interest in nutrition gradually grew into a passion for helping others on their own health journeys, which ultimately led him to UNE. From Competitive Cycling to Nutrition Growing up in Sun Valley, Idaho, Jackson participated in and loved outdoor sports from a young age. He spent much of his free time skiing and then later got into cycling. This passion for physical fitness led Jackson to study integrated physiology at the… Read more >>
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Alumni Spotlight: Tyler Blankenship – Applied Nutrition Program

Tyler Blankenship, Master of Science in Applied Nutrition Student Tyler Blankenship, Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR), from Orlando, Florida, is a student in the Master of Science in Applied Nutrition program. Tyler’s background includes working as a chef at Walt Disney World, as a restaurant nutritionist at Sea World and also in nutrition management at a long term care facility. From Chef to Dietary Management Prior to beginning his master’s degree with UNE, Tyler flexed his culinary chops working as both a sous chef and nutritionist at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Armed with degrees in culinary arts and culinary nutrition from Johnson & Wales University, Tyler cooked at Four Star, Five Diamond restaurants at Disney. With a developing interest in nutrition, he moved on to a nutritionist position for… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Thomas Troelstrup, MPH Program

Thomas Troelstrup, MPH “Thanks to this terrific program, I was just offered my dream job on Tuesday as a Foodborne Disease Outbreak Epidemiologist for the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville! I never thought I would land it by the age of 28!” MPH student Thomas Troelstrup reached out to us with some exciting news about his career this week, so we wanted to connect with him to talk about his new opportunity and his experience with UNE! Like so many MPH students, Thomas came to study Public Health in a somewhat roundabout way. After high school, he attended community college, playing college baseball and majoring in History. Shortly thereafter, he was offered the opportunity to transfer to UNC Greensboro, to play… Read more >>
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Student Spotlight: Alison Braid, MPH – Public Health Program

Alison Braid, MPH student at UNE Online MPH student Alison Braid is more than halfway through her degree, and loving it. After spending over 15 years in the professional translation and website localization industry, she wanted to make a career switch. Says Alison, “I decided that it was time for a change!” Alison is based in New York City, and most recently managed a localization team of engineers, linguists, and graphic designers, evaluating certain websites, translating and adapting them into several languages. Her day-to-day activities involved working across diverse industries and cultures, and making the websites they’re localizing appealing to each culture. With her Master’s Degree in Translation Studies, she started in the firm as a project manager, and worked her way up through the ranks of… Read more >>
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Ed.D. Student Ben Luce published in professional journal

Ben Luce, Ed.D. Benjamin Luce, a student in the University of New England’s online doctoral program, was recently published in the American Journal of Distance Education. Benjamin interviewed Bryan Alexander, a leading thinker and writer in issues of education and technology. Alexander is a senior fellow for the National Institute of Technology in Liberal Education. The two discuss many issues relating to technology and its place in modern education – including social media, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), history of technology in education, distance education, and much more. For those with institutional access to the American Journal of Distance Education, the interview can be found here. Check with your library to see if you have access to the periodical… Read more >>
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