Lauren Geary, MPH 2016
Project Manager, Illinois Workplace Wellness Study
What inspired you to pursue an MPH degree?
I decided to pursue an MPH degree because I knew that I wanted to be involved in public health, but I didn’t know exactly how or where I would fit in such a large and multidicsiplinary field. An MPH degree was a great option for me. It was broad enough to allow me to explore different areas of public health that I hadn’t had very much exposure to previously, and I was able to refine my own interests in the field. I felt confident that by pursuing an MPH, I could remain flexible in my career goals while still building a valuable skillset that would help to make me a strong candidate for various positions in the public health field.
Why did you choose Illinois for your MPH?
It was easy for me to choose Illinois to pursue my MPH – I love Illinois! I had already gone to Illinois for my undergraduate degree, and therefore, I was already familiar with the campus and with the College of Applied Health Sciences. When I decided to continue my studies at U of I and to pursue my MPH, I made a lot of new friends in my cohort. We all became very close, and it was nice to have a tight-knit support system that helped me get through the studying, projects, and exams.
How did your Illinois MPH degree help prepare you to work in the field OR what were the highlights of your time in the MPH program?
For the past 3 years, I have worked as the Project Manager for a large randomized-controlled trial that examines and evaluates the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs. One of the ways that my Illinois MPH helped to prepare me for this position was through the diverse curriculum. Understanding the fundamentals of program evaluation, research design, and health behavioral theories (and how they can interact with one another) proved to be really important throughout my work in the field. Also, the connections I made during my internships at U of I helped lead me to this position.
What advice do you have for current students or prospective students?
Say “yes” to the opportunities you’re given! When I was presented with opportunities for internships or volunteer opportunities that I wasn’t 100% sure would be a good fit for me, I decided to say yes to them anyways. I learned a lot from each opportunity about what I liked and what I didn’t like in the public health field, and I made so many valuable connections that have helped me a great deal along the way.