Julia Sherry, MS/MPH ('17)
- Water Mission
When I was in undergrad starting to think seriously about my career path, I spent time looking at job boards to see what sorts of qualifications were required for my “dream jobs.” I quickly saw that everyone doing the kinds of jobs I dreamed of had an MPH.
I work in Charleston, South Carolina, at Water Mission, a Christian nonprofit engineering organization. Water Mission designs, builds, and implements safe water and sanitation solutions in developing countries, and responds to disasters. I work on the community development team as a Program Evaluation Specialist. My job is to design and support global monitoring and evaluation initiatives. As we love to say in public health, the best approach “starts where the community is,” and monitoring and evaluation initiatives help us do this. Measuring program outcomes and impacts not only allows us to report on our effectiveness and improve our programs based on what we learn, but also helps us customize our public health interventions for each unique community based on their assets and needs. I love this job because it is all about using good data to make our programs stronger so we can serve people better. It’s also an incredible experience to travel and work with our international field staff teams around the world.
I can’t say enough about how valuable my MPH degree has been. I am significantly better at my job for having earned this degree. Since my job is heavily focused on theory-based program design and evaluation, I use practical aspects of what I learned during my MPH on a daily basis. I refer to my “Health Behavior in Health Promotion Practice and Research” textbook regularly, as my team is building out a theory-based hygiene/ handwashing promotion program. Honestly, I think that the overall public health approach on how to engage with communities (understand causes and underlying factors of health issues, be a good listener, communities are the real experts, target root issues) are equally as valuable as the more practical skills (biostatistics, program development and evaluation) for launching students like me into careers geared towards community health.
Treat your practicum as an investment in your career. I did my practicum for the organization I currently work for, it was an incredible way to apply what I was learning in class, and to get my foot in the door at an organization I dreamed of working with after graduation. Also, get to know your professors because this department is full of incredible faculty!