Meet our Ambassadors

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I completed my undergrad at the UMN and enjoyed my time on campus and felt that this would be a great place to stay for grad school, especially because of the diversity within the Twin Cities, the relationship between the SPH and local health departments, and the fact that the school is one of the top in the country.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

It can feeling daunting but don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors if you have questions. In my experience, my graduate level professors are a lot more supportive than ones I had in undergrad and they are truly supportive and want to see you succeed and can help guide you in the right direction.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I chose the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota because of it’s academic reputation and the quality research that is being done. It is an environment where all involved care about public health, healthcare, and making a difference in people’s lives now and in the future. Since starting school in the MPH program everyone from support staff to professors have been very approachable and excited for students to be successful.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

I would recommend getting involved with activities that are focused on first year students. It allows you to network and learn from experienced students’ experiences. I would also recommend getting to know your professors, TAs, faculty and academic advisors. They are there to help you succeed. Finding a place that you can study is important, as students, we’re able to study in any classrooms if they’re not being utilized by a lecture. This can be a great option since study rooms can be in high demand. Finding activities/interests outside of school to keep you balanced, whether that be reading, exercising, mediation, etc. Being able to recharge in your downtime I think is so important.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I have a few different areas that I am invested in, but they all revolve around the public health and mental health of Indigenous populations, especially Indigenous youth. I am Bdewakantunwan (Spirit Lake Dwellers) Dakota from the Lower Sioux Indian Community in southwestern MN, and I felt like the Community Health Promotion at UMN SPH would be the best way to combine my interests with my educational and cultural background.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

I would recommend finding activities that fulfill and ground you outside of school. I came to graduate school straight from undergrad, and I have been realizing that I have a similar amount of time to lean into my interests beyond coursework. I have a research position with a project I am passionate about and have been taking time to explore Minneapolis and my new neighborhood, and it makes the balance between school and work and personal life so much more manageable.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I came to the School of Public Health because of its great reputation in the field of Public Health. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from many renowned professors and researchers here. Initially, I was also attracted to the School of Public Health because of the different job opportunities around the Twin Cities campus like the Department of Health, many notable biotechnology companies, and even the University itself. I am also originally from Minnesota and love living in the Twin Cities area. I really enjoy how accessible the cities are for biking and that there are many lakes and parks nearby.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I did my undergrad here at the U of M and love living in the Twin Cities, and knew doing an MPH at the UMN SPH would allow me to work at the Minnesota Department of Health as I figure out where in environmental health and infectious disease I want to concentrate long-term. I like the variety of backgrounds and experiences my classmates bring with them to class!

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

You have to head up to the north shore (highway 61 between Duluth and Grand Portage) — in every season, it’s a beautiful place to visit.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I chose UMN SPH because of its great academics and emphasis on health equity. After exploring more about the Environmental Health program, I thought it would be a great fit. I have enjoyed getting to know my classmates and professors, and learning about the diverse areas of research within SPH and Environmental Health.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Professors, advisors, faculty and other students are very willing to answer questions and provide excellent resources. Everyone here is so welcoming and wants you to succeed!

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

My interest in public health was sparked during the pandemic when I became more passionate about infectious disease epidemiology and population health statistics. The Environmental Health MPH program allowed me to combine these interests with my science and statistics background. Through SPH, I’ve broadened my knowledge of public health issues and have connected with students and professors who value the Twin Cities community and helping others. I enjoy how collaborative the SPH courses are because I’ve also learned from my fellow students and their experiences to inform my public health perspective.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Familiarize yourself with the Health Sciences Education Center, Moos Tower, and Phillips-Wangensteen Buildings. Many of the SPH courses are taught in these buildings, and especially in the winter months, knowing how to navigate between them quickly will be extremely helpful. The Health Sciences Education Center is also a great place to study. There are many study spots, reservable rooms, and a sizeable quiet-study space. Also, get to know your advisor! They are an excellent resource for all things SPH, career development, and Applied Practice questions.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I’m originally from Minnesota and I am lucky enough to attend a top school of public health in my home state.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Get to know your professor’s research and interests. Making connections early will be beneficial as you complete your degree requirements.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

After doing some boots-on-the-ground environmental advocacy work for a few years through AmeriCorps, I knew I wanted to pursue Environmental Health because of the need for solutions at the intersection of population and planetary health. I chose the School of Public Health because of its national reputation, the courses offered by the Environmental Health Sciences program, and the values of the school aligning with my own. What I like the most about SPH is the sense of collaboration. In addition to being experts in their fields, the professors and staff want to get to know you and your interests and help you reach your goals.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Try to do one new thing every week! If it’s taking a day trip to Stillwater, seeing a show at First Avenue, or just going to a new coffee shop, the Twin Cities have so much to offer. It’s so easy to get stuck in your own world of school and work, but getting out into the city and connecting with the community often helps give me perspective.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I was a pre-med then a pre-nursing student during undergrad, but I felt that my interests and work experiences were much broader than just medicine. The values of SPH align closely with my own and exploring the programs led me to industrial hygiene. Industrial hygiene (IH), or occupational hygiene, is a lesser known but equally important alternative to traditional healthcare careers that focuses on preventing workplace injuries. In IH, we use our passion for health and wellness to focus on “upstream” solutions. We learn to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control hazards before they result in injuries or illnesses. IH combines the passion I have for helping people and my background in science and allows me to apply my knowledge across all industries. The health equity minor assures that my work in IH addresses hazards for every population, especially those with disproportionate rates of occupational illnesses and injuries. The School of Public Health is providing the knowledge, context, and network I need to ensure that every single person has access to a healthy, safe workplace.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

The libraries on campus have reservable study rooms that are great for a quiet study space and for group meetings. Most have a large monitor that connect easily to your laptop, and whiteboards for brainstorming. The SPHere lounge is also a great study space and a convenient way to meet and network with other SPH students (plus, free printing!).

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I chose this program because we have great faculty and curriculum, and I also liked the amount of student job opportunities in the area that have allowed me to gain experience in public health. What I love most about being a student here is being able to connect with professors and students that all have a passion for public health.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Utilize office hours to get help when you need it! Our professors want us to succeed, and it’s also a great opportunity to connect with them and learn about their career/professional experiences.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

The reputation of the University of Minnesota’s academics was very appealing, but also the sense of community between all of their students motivated me to come to School of Public Health. I really like the excitement and dedication of everyone in SPH to learn and grow in their field.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Take Marta Shore’s Biostatistics I class! She is a happy, understanding, and talented professor. The way she structures and teaches her class makes it a lot more manageable to learn complicated topics.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

In researching the faculty at each school I had applied to, I found that the professors at the University of Minnesota had research interests that were aligned with my own. I had also heard about other past students’ experiences who had described a very welcoming and inclusive environment, and interesting and relevant classes. I’ve definitely found this to be true in my own experience, and have found that the faculty at UMN and other public health professionals in the surrounding Twin Cities area are very approachable and useful in developing one’s interests and projects.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Utilize office hours and connect with other students! One of the most valuable parts of my experience has been to make friends through study groups and in classes, as it can make even the most difficult parts of the program more fun. I’d also recommend using the CHIP lounge, it’s a very comfortable place to study and relax between or after classes and sometimes there’s snacks!

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I chose the U of M because of its emphasis on research and clear commitment to serving underserved communities. I love helping to contribute to this.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

I absolutely love to study at the Graduate Hotel! The entire lobby has space for students to study.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I heard great things about the program and how academically rigorous it is, and I thought it would be a great place to attend. What I like the most about being an SPH student is being able to meet great people who care about public health. Everyone wants to help people in some way using their respective skillset and that is not something that you find everywhere.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

I would suggest talking to professors, TAs, other students, alumni, etc. to know what opportunities are available to you throughout your time at SPH. I also suggest getting involved in the different organizations and positions that are available. It is a great way to get to know people!

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

The School of Public Health’s reputation as a strong research institution and leader in equity work drew me to this program. During my time as a student so far, the program is absolutely living up to my expectations! The instructors are incredibly knowledgable and passionate about teaching the content.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Print out a sheet of your weekly recurring assignments/expectations for each class, so it’s easy to see everything you need to do all in one place. Reach out to your peers to create study groups for your harder courses, even meet on Zoom to make it easy! It will help keep you accountable.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

My interests lie at the intersection of public policy and science, and my goal is to work in health policy analysis at the state level driven by my desire to improve health outcomes at the population level. I am interested in continuing research which is grounded in community relationships which I have been able to pursue in several research projects as a SPH student.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Get to know your cohort! I tend to enjoy and get a lot more out of courses when I am able to connect with the students taking them alongside me.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I came to the School of Public Health because of its reputation to get students into jobs and the feeling I got when I talked to my program director, Stuart Grande. When I first met with him he made sure that I knew I would be supported and have people to help me advance my career wherever that took me. I love how being a SPH has given me the supports throughout my first year in the program. I moved from halfway across the county and within a week of starting school I had peer mentors, an alumni mentor, my program coordinator and advisor, my academic advisor and many other supports. Being a student at the School of Public Health means you will always have someone to turn to when you need help.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Utilize the different resources the campus has to offer to expand your network. I have had some amazing experiences going to networking events, participating in the alumni mentor program, participating in peer mentor programs and reaching out to alumni in my program. It is important to build relationships, not just contacts.

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I came to SPH with goals to work in a health department or policy role to support people by affecting the resources and funds both available and accessible to them. The emphasis on health equity throughout the school is evident and a core value that strongly resonates with me. I have felt valued as an individual and inspired by the school’s belief in me, which was a large part of what brought me here! Situated in the Twin Cities, I also love the blend of city and nature with lots of professional and learning opportunities given that the state capitol and health department are right here along with many other health-related organizations.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Definitely make use of the CHIP lounge on the 7th floor of HSEC! It’s only for health interprofessional students, and perfect for lunch, studying, or hanging out between classes. One more thing is to do all your printing in the SPHere lounge on the first floor of Mayo – it’s for SPH students and you’re allotted printing money there!

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

As a lifelong Twin Cities resident, I am passionate about improving the health and lives of those in a community I feel so connected with. I knew that UMNSPH was the best choice for me because I could continue to work in the community I love, but I also knew that UMNSPH would expose me to many perspectives from outside the state and country. I have met so many incredible people from around the world and learned so much about many public health issues I didn’t even know existed. UMNSPH’s drive to achieve health equity is also meaningful to me, as our government and society often neglect and harm many groups and communities. UMNSPH and its curriculum relight my passion for public health every day, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the opportunities and knowledge it has given me.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

If you have any disability, big or small, I encourage you to check out the Disability Resource Center and ask for any necessary accommodations! As a graduate student with ADHD and anxiety, accommodations through the Disability Resource Center have really helped me. All those who work in the DRC are compassionate and understanding, and all my professors have been so flexible with my needs. And even if you don’t have a disability, don’t be afraid to ask for help from UMNSPH faculty – they’re all here to help you and to make your experience at UMNSPH the best it can be! (If you have any questions about accommodations or concerns about a disability, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at mcfar289@umn.edu!).

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

I came to the School of Public Health initially because of the coordinated nutrition and dietetics program. After doing further research into what the school has to offer, I decided to completely change course! After doing my undergraduate degree here, I felt very comfortable at the university and confident that I could succeed at a school with great academic reputation. As an SPH student, I appreciate how welcoming and supportive the staff and other students have been as a first year. It feels like everyone involved in your degree truly cares about your success as a student and your well being away from the classroom.

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

My first tip would be to utilize the resources around campus! The U provides so many academic and mental/physical health resources, you just have to take the first step. Another tip would be to truly explore the city of Minneapolis on and off campus. If you are new to the area, there is so much to do close by that can make the city feel more like home!

What brought you to SPH and what do you like about being an SPH student?

One tip you have for new students? (favorite classes, favorite places on or off campus, resources to utilize, other suggestions, etc.)

Switch your mindset from “pass the test, get the grade, graduate” to “I want to become in expert in this”. In my undergrad, I was focused on getting good grades and finishing with a high GPA than actually learning something. As a graduate student, it’s important to integrate ideas and connect ideas in order to have a better understanding of the material rather than trying to cram the information and then forgetting the information.

© 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy Statement