Monday, September 7, 2015

MPH

You may remember a few months ago I wrote a blog post where I informed the universe I had been accepted into the University of Liverpool – Masters in Public Health program.  Today I want to share a little bit more about the back end of that story and an update as to where I am today.

I’ve always been a learner and loved it.  I’ve said if money wasn’t an issue I’d probably be a perpetual student; there’s so much more out there that I want to know about! I’m the one that instead of taking easy classes my senior year I jumped ahead to university and took a full course load while I was still in high school.  I’ve always wanted to go back to school, even started several years back when I still didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life.  So the more I find myself loving and thriving in this field, the more it became apparent that it was time to pursue this degree.

The MPH is a baseline standard in the field of public and global health.  If I was to try to do what I am doing now with any other organization, I would have to have an MPH.  As we are working towards further growth in our programs and global impact, the MPH will give me a richer base of knowledge in things like measurement and evaluation, qualitative analysis and data collection, behavior change models and social determinants towards health practice.

I’m not planning to leave; rather, I would love to be here much, much longer.  This degree isn’t meant for me to be able to get a better paying job elsewhere, it is so I can do my job here better, with a higher level of academic and professional credibility.

So about a year ago I started looking at different schools all over the world. I didn’t want to leave MS so an online degree was important, however many schools offer ‘affiliate’ online degrees that are diploma mills and have no actual credibility.  No way am I going to spend the money on a useless degree!  The University of Liverpool degree online is the exact same degree as if you were there in person.  It’s also one of the recommended programs by the WHO (United Nations) for people looking to work in that organization.  So I figured if it was okay with the UN, it would probably be a good one!

If you know me at all you know I hold my future very loosely; I wanted to get this degree, but only if it was the best thing for me and had the blessing of God on it!  No way did I want to be working full time and going to school and giving up my personal time if God wasn’t going to bless it or if it was for my own selfish gain!  So I put some fleeces out there.  (Gideon put out fleeces as a way to ‘check in’ with God to verify his call and blessing…Judges, chapter 6)

One – would I get in?  Liverpool is not an easy peasy school… it’s been thirteen years since I graduated from college and while I didn’t have a reason to think I wouldn’t get in, it was certainly a possibility.  So I prayed over and over and over that if this wasn’t the best for me that I wouldn’t get in. 

Well, as you know, I did. Then comes the second fleece – will it get funded? No way will I go into debt to do this thing. I worked too hard for too long to get OUT of debt, and am now living in the favor that being debt-free offers. (It’s amazing).  So I trusted that if it isn’t the best thing for me that it wouldn’t get funded.  And I wrote that blog post and left it at that.

Well, the first year is entirely funded.  Thanks to the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Duluth, MN) Endowment fund grant, Mercy Ships, a few other small organizations, several anonymous donors, and supportive friends, family, and strangers. 

So I started the first week of July and it’s been a really fun road so far.  It’s a lot of reading and a lot of writing and thankfully both come relatively easily for me; some topics are especially interesting and some are boring but you have to jump through the hoops sometimes.  It takes up a lot of time; one of the sacrifices I willingly have made is a definite cut to personal and social time, however I do believe it will be worth it. My work has been supportive as well and I’ve been able to take some time during the week to try to keep up. 

I’ve only been back on the ship for just over a week so I’m not yet sure how well I will be able to balance work and school but I’m going to try!  My grades so far are good and I still hold it all quite loosely; I want to make it work and I will try really hard to make it work, but if it doesn’t, it won’t ruin me!

It’s a two-and-a-half to three-year program; depends on if you take breaks between modules and how long your thesis research takes.  I am hoping to get it finished on the short end of that timeline. My first year is funded so we will see how it goes, if it goes well I will need another $9k next July. Just throwing that out there.  I don’t ever have to go to Liverpool in person, but I can go there to graduate alongside with their in-person students.  We shall see if I make the trip in a few years. If I make it that far.

A huge thanks to everyone who has encouraged me on this journey so far, and those that have supported it financially.   I couldn’t do this without you!! 


University of Liverpool Coat of Arms

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