Anna Stevens (’12 M.P.H.) graduated with her MPH, specializing in Health Services Management, in Spring 2012. She currently works at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
We asked her questions about her experiences earning her degree:
Why did you choose NIU’s MPH program to further your education?
I had an idea of where I wanted to be professionally and as an older student I knew that if I started a career right after undergraduate school, the likelihood of me returning to pursue a graduate degree would be slim. I figured, since I was already “living poor” as a college student, it was best to just continue straight through. I had completed my undergraduate degree in Public Health at NIU and knew that I wanted to continue down this path and pursue a career in healthcare in the Federal Government. The staff and professors at NIU were top notch and made the decision to continue on very easy.
How has obtaining your MPH degree advanced your career?
Immediately following the completion of my MPH I was offered a leadership position within the organization in which I completed my graduate practicum. Not only was it a combination of right place, right time, but the organization was also confident in my knowledge and experience because of my M.P.H. I stayed with that organization for close to a year and then successfully obtained a position in the Federal Government. Having my M.P.H. not only allowed me to enter federal service at a higher pay grade but it also afforded me a variety of positions and organizations to choose from because there were more vacancies available at the higher professional level. I have used much of what I learned during the M.P.H. program to excel in my career within the Federal Government. Some of these accomplishments include successful completion of the Presidential Management Fellows program, selection for the Department of Health and Human Services Ignite program, team leadership positions on special work groups and much more.
As a working professional, how much time did you have to put into courses?
Not only was I working full-time while pursuing my graduate degree, but I was also a single parent. It is all about time management. I will admit that there were some more stressful times than others based on the course, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. I was also able to take an aggressive course load in order to finish as quickly as possible. Not only did I have a good personal support system, but I also had a very understanding employer.
Where did you work prior to your current employer?
I served in the military for just over nine years and returned to school at the age of 29. I worked as a student worker for a period of time during my undergraduate career and then took a part-time position with the Kendall County Health Department for my undergraduate practicum. I was then hired on at the health department under a temporary grant. When that grant expired I began working at the McHenry County Health Department. I left the health department and returned to NIU to serve in the newly formed Military Student Services office. I worked at NIU through my graduate degree and then took a position as the Director of Prevention and Community Education at a local non-profit. I then took a position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and transferred to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2014. I’ve been with CMS for three years and plan to stay for a long time.
What advice would you give to current MPH students?
It’s worth it! Keep working hard and absorb as much as you can.
What advice would you give to prospective MPH students?
Be sure this is the career path you want to pursue. With any graduate program you need to be confident in your earning potential post completion. It is possible so don’t get discouraged. Be smart and be aggressive.