Graduate programs open door to better opportunities for Green, Davis
November 8, 2011
Lisle, Illinois ~ The road to success may not always be a straight line, but a graduate degree augmented by an internship or fellowship can certainly put a person on the right path.
After graduating from college, Jennifer Green knew she might enjoy working in a cardiac diagnostics and rehabilitation facility. She also knew, however, that she would need a graduate degree to reach her goal.
The Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Exercise Physiology program at Benedictine University came highly recommended from one of her undergraduate professors. It did not take Green long to understand why.
"Everyone at the University was so helpful from the time I began my application to when I graduated," she said. "After my interview, I knew this was where I belonged and I would be provided opportunities that I wouldn't receive anywhere else."
Once Green's classroom work at Benedictine was completed in 2010, she was hesitant to intern in a specialty area in which she had already gained some experience. She was looking for a new challenge.
Benedictine University M.S. in Clinical Exercise Physiology program and research coordinator Regina Schurman remembered a contact she had made at a workshop two years earlier and steered Green to the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD), an information clearinghouse that promotes physical activity for all people regardless of their ability.
"I met the associate director of research at NCPAD in 2007, and I was so impressed with the work that her center did with people with disabilities that I had asked her for her business card so I could follow up in the future regarding internship possibilities," Schurman said.
"One of the best parts of my position is being able to link students with the resources that will take their professional development to the next level," Schurman added.
The internship led to a full-time position for Green.
"I never would have had such an opportunity if I had not attended Benedictine," Green said. "Through that experience, my future goals changed dramatically."
Today, the Portage, Mich. native is an Exercise Physiologist/Information Specialist at NCPAD. She speaks at national conferences and works closely with experts in the field and physical therapists to create programs that encourage physical activity among a widely diverse population.
"I think the most important thing I learned during my degree work was that there are endless possibilities in this field," Green said. "Exercise physiologists are leaders in preventative medicine and the fight against disease and obesity in particular."
Kristina Davis graduated from one of Benedictine's dual master's degree programs – the Master of Science in Nutrition and Wellness/Master of Public Health – in 2010. Shortly after graduation, she was selected as a Prevention Science Fellow, a one-year federal fellowship through which she worked on development and implementation of three key initiatives – "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans," the "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans" and "Healthy People 2020."
Her fellowship led to a position as a research specialist for the American Hospital Association Health Research and Educational Trust, where she manages and supports national hospital-based interventions to reduce hospital acquired infections.
The Columbia, S.C. native said it made sense to earn a graduate degree to acquire the skill sets needed in the area in which she planned to work.
"Benedictine University was one of the few places in the United States where you could focus on public health and nutrition at the same time," Davis said. "Since many of the public health problems in the United States currently are linked to nutrition, it made sense to me to pursue degrees in both fields."
Davis also found the professors at Benedictine a vast resource of knowledge and field experience.
"Classes at Benedictine are very diverse," she said. "You get to sample a lot of different subjects with teachers who are very accessible and interested in helping you succeed. The professors are often active professionals in the fields on which they lecture, so they bring real world experience that is often not present in institutions where faculty only work in academia."
One of the most influential professors Davis encountered was Georgeen Polyak, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Master of Public Health Program Director.
"I loved how Dr. Polyak brought her experience to the classroom," Davis said. "It helped me learn about how to apply the skills we were learning to real-life problems. Teachers at Benedictine are very open to sharing their career paths and how they have accomplished their goals. Hearing the different routes to success helps give you ideas on ways you can pursue your own."
Davis also credits a Benedictine professor for giving her a piece of advice which has helped fuel her career.
"The professor told me to get involved in professional organizations," she said. "This has helped me to connect with people from all over the United States and world in my field. The connections help me to grow and learn more about ongoing improvements in nutrition and public health."
Benedictine University's graduate programs provide more than just an education. Our faculty offer experience, support, advice and mentoring that can make a difference whether someone is looking for a new career or advancement in an existing one.
For more information about Benedictine University's graduate programs, contact the Enrollment Center at (630) 829-6300 or www.ben.edu/admissions.