Advice: What I learned after 2 years

Sunni Wenson, 2nd-year Behavioral Sciences and Health Education Student

As my time at Rollins (quickly!) comes to an end, I often find myself reflecting on some of the aspects that made graduate school not so tough at times. In an effort to help all of you soon-to-be’ers reading this, I’d thought I’d share so that you all can start taking advantage upon your very first gaze as a student….

1. Networking opportunities: As you may or may not know, public health is an extremely networked field! What does that mean? It means that there’s a good chance your off-campus practicum supervisor once worked with one of your professors on a project or research. It means that you may very well bump into your classmates several years from now at an organization you never thought you would. It means in Atlanta, everyone in public health just about seems to know everyone. In case you’re wondering how this is a good thing, I’ll fill you in. Rollins offers tons of opportunities for us to meet professionals in the field, currently working in what would be our dream job. So it is easy to meet these people, let them know what you’re interested in and see if they have any work/volunteer opportunities for you. If not, they may pass your name on to someone else who may know someone else. I understand if this sounds extremely unlikely at this time but I promise it’s true. So during your first few months when you’re making sense of it all, take the time to go up and talk to people in your dept, in career services, and also in any public health part-time jobs you may have. This could really make all the difference in the opportunities you are afforded both during and after Rollins.

2. The resources: Lectures, amazing professors, public health updates, I could literally go on and on. This is something I think students (myself included) definitely take for granted. At Rollins we are constantly on the frontlines of being notified of the latest public health policies and programs. And while this may not sound extremely exciting, it is! I now realize that after May, I’ll have to do my homework to stay abreast about what is going on in the world. I won’t be able to just wake up, walk into class, and learn how measles is spreading or how the Ebola epidemic is impacting communities. And while getting this information won’t be terribly hard thanks to the trusty internet, it won’t be as easy as it is now. These things are literally delivered to our front doors every day and the only effort I have to put forth to get it, is rolling out of my bed. I also include professors in this category because they they’ve been a real resource for me. Whether it’s figuring out my thesis data analysis so I can actually graduate, or just being a sounding board for me to talk about my career, they’ve been here willing and ready with valuable and supportive advice. As much as I hope my next employer is supportive, I highly doubt my boss will tolerate me walking into their office at random to discuss a change in my public health career aspirations. Lucky for me, my current advisor accepts this with ease.

3. Peers: I think it’s safe to say that this will be the last time that I will be surrounded by such diverse, incredible, talented people who are working towards the same thing as I am. As a class, we cry together over assignments, stress together over finding a job, and celebrate together over the end of all these things! No, I’m not trying to scare you into thinking that all you’ll do at Rollins is cry and feel stressed, I’m reassuring you that you’ll always have someone to do it with. The BHSE dept LOVES group work, and as a strong type A personality it hasn’t always been my favorite thing. But by the end of every semester, I could hug my group members all day long because I knew I would not have been able to get through projects without them. I’ve definitely grown to see the benefits of working in a team since being at Rollins, and I’m sure I’ll be a more effective professional because of it. Your peers will bring various perspectives and opinions that you will grow to appreciate and admire. So embrace your classmates and all the diversity they are sure to bring to your life.

This list could go on and on but I’ll leave it at my top 3 for now. If you’re a prospective student reading this, know that this time will fly by so much faster than you expect. So do what you can to make the most of your time at Rollins and try to leave with more than just an MPH. I’m leaving with excellent mentors, life-long friends, and all around great times at Emory and I couldn’t have had a better experience!

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