September 28, 2021

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Recent University of Michigan School of Public Health graduate Delaney discusses flexibility, career support, and community in online learning

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Two years ago, Delaney Preston was just starting her online public health degree, logging on as part of Michigan Public Health’s first cohort of online master’s students in the Population and Health Sciences program. 

Ahead of her graduation, Delaney caught up with the School of Public Health to share what factors made her time studying online such a success: the flexibility of her online degree, the continual support from the School of Public Health team, and the rich community in her online cohort.

The recent grad attributes much of her success to the flexibility of the online degree program. “With this program being online, it was a lot easier to commit to a few live lectures and do the rest when I was ready. It’s easier to stay motivated when I can do the work when I have the time and mental energy to focus on it.”

During her program, Delaney was able to take advantage of professional opportunities that may not have been possible with another master’s program. The online nature of the MPH program allowed her to “[continue taking] these amazing and valuable travel assignments that make my job amazing…I was able to go on trips, gain professional experience, and still keep moving forward with my school work because I could access it from anywhere.”

Since beginning the program, Delaney’s life has changed a lot. She accepted her dream job and moved across the country, from Michigan to Alaska. At the start of her second year in the program, Delaney packed up to join Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation as a Health Educator in the midst of the pandemic, all while continuing her studies online. She explains that, during her job search, she was able to hold out for the role she was most excited about and notes that she was “amazed at the options” she had after a year of study. 

When reflecting on how her education and experiences with Michigan Public Health prepared her for life after graduation she cites the support she received during her time in the program. “When I have had concerns come up in my job that need help with, I brought those into class, to my classmates. And the projects I worked on have been extremely connected to the work that I’m doing at my job.” In addition to getting this support from her program, she was also able to take advantage of guidance from the University of Michigan School of Public Health Career Development Office which is focused on bridging the gap between school training and professional goals.

As Delaney looks back on her time in the Population and Health Sciences program, the thing that surprised her most about the experience is how connected she was able to become to her classmates and professors.

“As an online cohort, we were absolutely still able to connect…All the professors have been so supportive. I felt more support and connection in this master’s program—even being online and four time zones away—than I did in my in-person undergrad experience. I think that has a lot to do with the size of our cohort and often feeling like we’re just having a conversation. In those smaller settings where we’ve got five to 10 classmates, you get to know each other and share opinions and ideas. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at that connection.”

The Michigan School of Public Health’s Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Population and Health Sciences provide students with flexibility, career support and services, and a passionate, connected community. These factors prepare students like Delaney for a successful future as leaders in the field of public health.

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