Whitney Greger, MPH 2016
Health Education Program Coordinator at Champaign-Urbana Public Health District
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the variety of different health education topics I get to work on and the diverse, interesting community partners I get to work with. I also (weirdly) enjoy the intense, sometimes daunting, process of grant writing--it is kind of like writing a research paper except sometimes you get money after it! My other favorite job duty is facilitating comprehensive teen pregnancy and STD prevention education in local Champaign County schools. I love interacting with the students and empowering them to make proud and responsible choices for themselves and their future.
What inspired you to pursue an MPH degree?
I was first exposed to public health during my undergraduate career at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) where I worked for the University’s Health Education Resource Center (HERC). During my time as student worker I became very interested in prevention and education. The HERC’s programming was tailored to students and faculty at EIU but I wanted to learn more about the broader scope of community and population health. I knew that I wanted to go on and pursue higher education after completing my Bachelor’s degree but I was having difficulty pinpointing exactly what I wanted to study. I learn about a Master of Public Health degree being an option but, truthfully, I didn’t know much about it. After digging deeper and researching exactly what public health was and what public health organizations do for their communities I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.
What did you choose Illinois for your MPH?
I chose UIUC for a few different reasons—it has world renowned research programs, highly trained and experienced faculty and a diverse student population. Also, the fact that UIUC is just an hour north of EIU is a plus! I was also extremely pleased MPH Program Coordinator was quick to answer any application questions and was more than happy to tell me all about the program. She made the application process seem less daunting.
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?
I think that the Practicum and Capstone experiences most prepared me to work in the field of public health. I completed both projects at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and got a full picture of public health in action. For my Practicum, I studied mosquito populations and West Nile Virus in the Champaign-Urbana Area. I completed a research project that focused on improving mosquito larvicide retention in catch basins. It was very rewarding to see the results from my research being used to influence program decisions! The MPH program faculty and staff work very hard to make sure that you are prepared for those experiences and that you know how to get the most out of them.
What advice do you have for current students OR prospective students?
Take advantage of every opportunity. Seek out volunteer opportunities in the community—there are plenty! You will get out of your Practicum and Capstone experiences what you put in to them—make the most! Be a part of some type of research. Network, network, network! Make presentations and talk to different groups of people. Subscribe to an email listserv to receive daily emails on public health issues (I prefer Public Health Newswire from APHA). Go to office hours. Meet regularly with your advisor. Make use of resources on campus like the Career Center—you don’t get that after graduation!