Getting to know your fellow students and those who have gone before you in the program is one of the best ways to really get a feel for the student experience in CWU’s public health program. Check back periodically for interviews with some of your classmates and alumni! Want to be featured? Contact a faculty member to share about YOUR experiences!
Student Highlight: Ellie Wylie, Class of 2015
As a recent graduate in the community health specialization (now population health), Ellie Wylie shares her experience with coursework, public health research and fieldwork, and life after graduation.
Why did you choose public health as a major?
I came into Central with the intent of pursuing physical therapy, and then switched to Spanish after my first year. Public health wasn’t really on my radar nor something I knew much about. I’m not exactly sure how I came upon it, but I ended up meeting with one of the program advisors during the beginning of my sophomore year. She told me more about the major, career options, opportunities to work internationally, etc. I really liked the versatility of public health and how it incorporated so many different sectors (healthcare, social services, education, etc.). I declared my major that day and have happily continued in the field since.
What was your favorite class in the program and why?
I had a few favorites, but I think HED 460 Public Health Ethics would be the winner. I really enjoyed the structure of the class, as we debated and analyzed various events that called for ethical evaluations. With there being so many ethical issues in the health and medical field today, I found it to be a very relevant class with a lot of engaging discussion and participation.
What have you been up to after graduating and what is life like on the outside?
After graduating last June (2015), I went on to complete my culminating internship at a community health center close to my hometown. I worked in a program that specifically focused on improving access to healthcare for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. I fortunately loved the work and the program I was a part of, and ended up staying an extra two months.
In the fall/winter following my internship, I worked retail, saved money, and moved back in with my parents (woohoo). I also applied to graduate schools for the following academic year. Come January, I was definitely ready for a new adventure and headed south to Colombia for a few months. At this point, the Zika outbreak was just hitting the region, so it was a pretty interesting time to be there from a public health standpoint. I had a great experience getting to know a new culture, making new friends, trying new foods and learning the language.
I have actually just returned home after Colombia and then going and visiting graduate schools. In the end, I have chosen to attend the George Washington University to pursue an MPH in Community Oriented Primary Care. I will be making the big move to DC in August, but until then I am searching for temporary employment and looking forward to summertime in the PNW.
What advice or recommendations do you have for other students in public health?
For current and future students, my main recommendation would be to get involved. Make connections with your classmates, talk with your professors outside of class, pursue research. Use your resources while you can! Even after I graduated I continued to be in contact with professors and faculty at Central. I was able to continue assisting in research projects, and even attend the National Association of Community Health Center’s CHI & EXPO conference in Orlando, Florida last summer with the help of a faculty mentor. More recently, I am assisting with a manuscript regarding reproductive healthcare, and still remain in contact with a few mentors/faculty.
My advice to other students would be:
- Reach out to and keep in touch with your faculty at Central. Their mentorship is invaluable.
- Be picky when choosing your culminating internship. You will be spending a lot of time there and it will probably be your first connection into the public health field! Make sure it is somewhere you can see yourself working happily.
- Don’t stress too much about being thrown into the real world. I think it is very normal to still have no real idea of what you want to do with your life! Enjoy the ups and the downs and the in-betweens.
- If you want to pursue grad school, do your research and start the process early! Consider lots of options, apply to multiple schools, take the GRE at least twice and give yourself a lot of time to gather all the necessary documents!
- And finally, if you can, definitely travel!
Just for fun… what song currently sums up your life? Think of it like your theme song.
“Work” by Rihanna because I am probably going to be doing a lot of it in the next two years….