My Life as a Certificate Candidate

By Elle Chumlongluk, MPH’23 in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences

I am currently in the Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Science Program and pursuing a Certificate in Infectious Disease Epidemiology. I have truly enjoyed my experience in the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Certificate (ID) as it has allowed me to learn more about a specific subject area that I have a strong interest in. In my future career, I want to focus on infectious disease, vaccine hesitancy, behavioral health, and health communications. There are so many intersections between infectious disease and behavioral health that I believe need to be investigated more.

I believe that even in just my first year I have been able to learn about infectious disease due to the required classes and the electives that I have had access to take within the certificate program. In my first semester, I was able to gain a general grasp of infectious disease in our required seminar class that brought multiple professors from different departments and specialties to talk about infectious disease. This semester I am taking an elective course called Immunization Programs and Policies which goes into details about the processes of immunization development, distribution, public perception, and policy. Some of the other required classes include Case Studies in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Concepts and Methods in ID EPI, and ID Dynamics: Theories and Models. Learning mathematical modeling and getting an introduction to coding in R is not something I would learn in my BSHES curriculum.

Although at first, I was nervous about being able to balance the ID Certificate and my other programs, it has definitely been manageable. Even outside of school I have two part time jobs and been able to be involved in organizations on campus as I served as the Georgia Public Health Association President. The faculty of the certificate program has been very supportive and there are multiple resources to help guide you through the certificate if you need it. At the moment, I am looking for my Applied Practicum Experience. I currently work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Viral Diseases and hope to be able to find a practicum experience within the division that aligns with my interest in behavioral health and infectious disease. In addition, the certificate program allows you to meet different individuals from different departments that have the same interests as you. The interdisciplinary learning allows for there to be more diverse perspective shared.

If you are thinking about applying for a certificate, my biggest recommendation is to make sure that it is something that you have a large interest and passion in. The certificate program has lots of requirements including the designating your Applied Practicum Experience and the Integrative Learning Experience around the topic of your certificate program. Not all certificate programs require an application; however, the ID epidemiology certificate requires one. If you are applying for the ID epidemiology, I recommend letting your passions and experience show through.I have truly enjoyed my experience in the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Certificate Program. I believe that so far it has truly given me the foundation that I need to start within my career in the behavioral health and infectious disease.

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