Hear from Health Science Graduates

What Do Truman’s Health Science Graduates Say About Their Truman Experience?

Recent Health Science graduates have taken positions helping others and continuing their education at schools like Washington University in Saint Louis.

“After graduating from Truman, I began my graduate studies in the Master of Public Health Program at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. While in the first year of my Master’s program, I decided to add a second Master’s degree and enrolled in the Master of Public Health and Master of Health Administration dual degree program at Missouri State. With this program, I will obtain both degrees within three years, while also receiving a Graduate Certificate in Public Health and Homeland Security. I am also the Student Liaison for the Missouri Public Health Association (MPHA), working with public health programs at universities and schools across the state to ensure the connections between the MPHA, professionals, and students remain strong.

I am currently a McNair Graduate Assistant, which was made possible to me by participating in the Ronald E. McNair Program during my time at Truman. As a graduate assistant, I spend 5 hours of my time working for the Graduate College in recruitment and 15 hours working in the Master of Public Health Program. Our MPH program is currently in the process of reaccreditation through the Council on Education of Public Health (CEPH), which has been a focus for me this semester. I also spend quite a bit of my time working on our Mosquito Surveillance project that is contracted with the Missouri Department of Health And Senior Services (MDHSS). Our program is trapping and identifying mosquitoes throughout much of Missouri in order to identify what diseases could possibly be transmitted in our state, with a main focus on Zika preparation. One of my favorite parts of public health is communicable disease prevention, and this project focuses on that in a huge way. After graduating from Missouri State, I plan to continue on and obtain my doctoral degree.

My education at Truman and CHES certification prepared me for my graduate studies in ways I cannot even begin to describe. Truman’s rigorous coursework provided me with more than I needed to know to continue my education in public health and health sciences. The in-depth and real-world applications provided by Truman’s HES faculty even led to me having a few graduate courses waived! If I could give any recommendations to Truman’s HES students, it is to take advantage of any opportunity provided to you. You have no idea who you will meet and what connections you might make by taking advantage of these opportunities. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and make yourself known!”
—Meghan Meyers (’16), Health Science

Meghan
“After graduating from Truman, I accepted a health educator position with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Adolescent Health Program. At DHSS I am responsible for training and providing technical support for all of the programming we fund throughout Missouri. This position also gives me the freedom to work on other projects that help increase the health of Missouri adolescents. We recently started a new campaign called Connect with Me. This campaign is for parents, guardians, or any youth-serving adult who need help connecting with the teens in their life. Truman definitely prepared me to take on such a large project and helped make me successful.
My course work and Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential really helped me find a job in the public health field. The HES facility and staff are amazing and really care about you and your success. The courses and experiences are directly applicable to work out in the field. The program is challenging but rewarding; I would recommend a health science major from Truman to anyone interested in health.”
—Bonnie Kempker (’16) Health Science/Minor in Psychology
Bonnie
“After I graduated, I started working for the Primaris Foundation as an insurance counselor. I assisted consumers with their marketplace or Medicaid applications during open enrollment. During non-open enrollment periods I did outreach in one of my designated three counties. I recently changed positions to be the MIPPA Outreach Coordinator and Regional Liaison, which is a part of the Missouri State Health Insurance Assistance Program. The goal of the MIPPA project is to identify and assist Medicare beneficiaries in rural and low income areas statewide in applying for federal and state benefits that may assist the consumer in lowering their healthcare costs. In both positions at the foundation, having my CHES is what got me hired. In June I started an online MPH program with a concentration in Healthcare Organization through the University of Alabama Birmingham. The education I received while at Truman has made working full-time while going to graduate school full-time much easier because the core classes are a review for me. My advice to current or prospective students is to take advantage of all of the great opportunities the HES Department offers. Those knowledge, skills, and abilities are invaluable and will look great on a resume.
—Xavier Vaughn (’16) Health Science/Minor in Business Administration
Xavier
“With skills like communication, time management, and leadership that I developed in the HES department, I am able to balance responsibilities in my personal, academic, and professional life. I am currently pursuing an educational doctorate at the University of Missouri-Columbia, while working as the Assistant Director of Student Services in the School of Nursing at a mid-sized institution. My time spent at Truman prepared me for a career vested in improving quality of life for others. My present role perfectly couples my passion for improving access to quality healthcare and broadening access to education.

I feel blessed to have received such a quality education from faculty that cared about more than grades and evaluations. While I would not have been able to predict where my career would take me five short years ago, I have felt prepared to tackle every challenge and opportunity provided to me thanks to the learning and encouragement I received at Truman State University.

I would embolden each new student to be open to opportunities and to get involved in the HES department. You will learn just as much inside the classroom as you will outside working with peers and mentors.”
—Alizabeth “Blair” Ballard (’13), Health Science

Blair
“When I graduated my goal was to find a role where I could engage in community collaboration, promote healthy living practices, and influence health-related policies. My journey in public health began as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) near Kansas City, Missouri, where I developed and implemented a variety of community-based health promotion programs. While working full-time as a community health educator, I pursued my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree online from University of Missouri-Columbia. I also obtained a Global Public Health Certificate, which allowed me to complete a month-long MPH internship abroad in Ghana, Africa. In August 2015, I was selected to participate in the Greater Kansas City Healthcare Foundation’s yearlong Healthy Communities Leadership Academy with other professionals to improve community collaboration, civic leadership, and system/policy change. I am thrilled to have transitioned into the role of project manager at the University of Kansas Medical Center Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health in 2016. Working alongside a team of medical and public health professionals, I am contributing to tobacco cessation research. In spring 2017, I advanced to a master level health education specialist (MCHES).  I am proud that my work is directly influencing positive change in public health so I can continue improving health outcomes in my community. My accomplishments are a result of the hands-on experience I received and the confidence I gained from HES staff and faculty, as a student and alumna.”
Amanda Grodie (’11), Health Science
Amanda
“After graduating with my B.S. in Health Science and earning my Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, I served in the Peace Corps as a community health development worker in Burkina Faso. After that experience, I accepted a job at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) as their Adolescent Health Educator. I know that my education from Truman and having my CHES played a significant role in my selection for the job at DHSS. I am now in my second year of coursework to obtain a Master of Public Health with a focus in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Minnesota. I am also starting a yearlong Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) fellowship. I know that I would not have had many of these opportunities without my education from the Truman HES department. One of the best things about the HES program is the ability to connect with classmates and faculty. By the end of my time at Truman, I had mastered relationship building which remains helpful years after graduation. By having smaller class sizes, HES students are given the chance to build social networks, which is not always possible in larger learning environments. I still feel comfortable reaching out to my former professors if I need a recommendation or advice, or checking in with former classmates about job opportunities or professional guidance.
—Emily Denight (’11), Health Science
Emily Denight
“I loved my time in the HES department. I knew that I was receiving a unique education as an undergraduate in HES. After graduation I attended Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and earned my Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree in May 2017. I now work for Clarkson Eyecare in Affton, Missouri. If you want to be part of a community that is welcoming and supportive, than Health Science is where you belong! The smaller class size and major allows you to be close with your faculty members and classmates. Truman HES was the best decision I made, and I often reflect on the great times I had in the HES department. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
—Ashley Hemphill (‘09), Health Science, Minor in Business Administration
Darius Taylor
“When I started my freshmen year at Truman, I couldn’t decide which major would be best for me although I have known I wanted be a dentist since age 11. Soon after I arrived on campus, I met with HES faculty and knew it was the right place for me. Little did I know my time in the HES department would help me develop a passion for health education and public health. I truly believe majoring in health science is going to make me a better dentist. The courses I took, along with the community service components made me more compassionate and aware of the importance of health education, and really drove home the need for comprehensive health education programs in communities.

After I graduated, I started working at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Mo. as an analyst. Currently, I am attending A.T. Still University – Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health (MOSDOH), as a member of the Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry class of 2021. I am thrilled to be living my dream every day! A.T. Still offers a joint DMD and MPH degree which I plan on taking advantage of fully.

I cherish the time I had at Truman, it challenged me and aided in developing my work ethic. I don’t think any Truman students or alumni would tell you it’s easy but that’s one of the many reasons why Truman ends up on list after list as a top university in the Midwest. My advice for current students is don’t give up on your dreams. It sounds cliché but seriously. I applied to dental school 3 times before I got in, but it made me a stronger person, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world! The saying that everything happens for a reason is very accurate.”
—Caitlin Eikermann (’15), Health Science, Minor in Biology

student
“The transition from high school to college was a real challenge for me. Despite taking Accelerated and Advanced Placement courses in high school, I struggled with the coursework and independence of being a student at Truman. Being a first-generation college student did not help at all, as I felt a bit isolated seeing the confidence and preparation of second-generation students. Nevertheless, I prevailed, but it was not without the support of systems in place within HES (and Truman at large) to help students who look like me and come from my background be successful. My academic aspirations (goals and plans) and expectations (likelihood of reaching those goals and plans) were not exactly aligned as a started my freshmen year within the Pre-Med concentration. As I sought to revise my aspirations, the warmth of the faculty welcomed me to seek advice that led to the development of an interdisciplinary pathway. This led to the development of longstanding relationships with Truman faculty members that have helped me to be the successful scholar I am today. Opportunities outside of (yet still supported by) HES made a big impact on my success at Truman as well, such as the Ronald E. McNair post-baccalaureate achievement program and other programming offered by the Multicultural Affairs Center (i.e. SEE program, tutoring services etc.). For a city boy with a small-town heart this was a great place for me to grow and transition into higher education. I earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2014 and am now enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I have had great work experiences with WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center as well. I am incredibly grateful for my experiences! As an HES student at Truman, know that you will be encouraged, pushed and supported regardless of who you are, where you came from and how you learn!”
—Darius Taylor (’12), Health Science, Minor in Biology
Darius Taylor
“After graduating from Truman, I enrolled in graduate school at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC), where I earned my Master in Public Health (MPH) degree in May 2015. During my time at SIUC, I had a great position at the campus Wellness Center doing college sexual health education. After I left SIUC, I realized that I still had a passion for nursing. I am now a little over a year away from my BSN, RN!

HES is full of awesome professors who wanted to see me do well! I was challenged by the faculty but also encouraged by them as well. It’s because of them that I succeeded as a McNair scholar and was able to go to graduate school. They worked with me and helped me graduate.

Be sure to talk to your professors! They are here to help you. They know far more than what they teach you in class. Many of them may have supplemental information about internship or job opportunities, and they have connections! All you have to do is ask.”
–Ashley Shields (’13), Health Science

Ashley Shields

“After graduating from Truman, I pursued a Master of Health Administration (MHA) from The University of Missouri—Columbia, or Mizzou. I received my MHA and a graduate certificate in Health Informatics in May 2016. During my last year of grad school, I applied for competitive administrative fellowships and obtained one with HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division in Green Bay, Wis. I have been serving in that role for a year and look forward to what comes next.

HES courses are great preparation for any health-related path you choose post-graduation. The population health perspective has equipped me with a well-rounded lens for making decisions about the communities and patients we serve. The balance between research, program implementation, and epidemiology served me well in my graduate classes and now in my role doing projects and rolling out initiatives. As we move towards a less hospital-centric/treatment only approach to health, the comprehensive education that HES and Truman provided will be a huge asset in my future roles.

Be open minded and willing to absorb everything you learn at Truman. I have honestly used almost everything I learned in HES, and it has helped me immensely. But also have fun! The professors are amazing and developing relationships is essential.”
—Maria Benitez (’14), Health Science, Minor in Business Administration

Maria Benitez
“After I graduated in 2006, I accepted a job offer at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center in Madison.  In 2011, I opted to go back to school part-time while working at the Cancer Center and received a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate.  In 2012 I moved to Gwangju, South Korea, where I taught conversational English to elementary, middle, and high school students.  After my return to the US,  I opted to return to graduate school and in May of 2017, I graduated with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Des Moines University.  I am currently employed in an outpatient clinic which specializes in one-on-one manual therapy.

At Truman I learned to communicate more effectively.  I have found that writing and presenting yourself well can open many doors, allowing you to convey important information in resumes and cover letters, scholarship applications, and interviews. In addition, I met wonderful faculty at Truman and in HES specifically who offered advice, encouragement, and a listening ear when I needed it, even 10 years later!  I am forever thankful for the caliber of faculty and fellow students I met at Truman.

My education at Truman was really broad; I took Italian classes and studied abroad in Rome.  I completed research with HES faculty.  I combined intense science courses with classes in religion, English, linguistics, and music.

For the lucky individuals who know exactly what they want to do with their lives – that is wonderful.   However, for the rest of us, be calm in the knowledge that it’s totally okay. Really.  I can look back on the years since I left Truman and see how the path that lead me to today – while certainly not linear – made me more determined to pursue my DPT and has given me life experience that makes it easier to connect with my patients.”
—Mary Beth Wims (’06), Health Science; Minors in Biology, Psychology, and Italian Studies

Mary Beth Wims
“When I started at Truman, I was not completely sure what I wanted to do. But when I started in HES, I found my fit. All the faculty helped me along the way and made sure I was in what classes would be best for what I was interested in pursuing. They also showed me so many opportunities that people in our field have to help others. Truman’s HES Department prepared me for all my future endeavors wherever my future would lead me. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic in the Health Education Sector, and the classes that I took at Truman gave me skills to teach trainings on a national level as well as complete local classes. I was prepared to write grants and organize programs across the country. Now, I’m pursuing my Master’s in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh and interning at the Allegheny County Health Department in Emergency Preparedness. I could not have asked for a better starting point than the program I found at Truman State University!”
—Emma Hosman (’13), Health Science
Emma
“After completing my coursework at Truman State in May 2016 I went on to complete an internship in healthcare administration at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.  I now work for Stryker, an industry leader in the medical device and surgical equipment industry.  In my position, I operate complex surgical equipment during procedures and manage surgical products for multiple specialties.

My experiences in the HES department have been invaluable.  My position involves surveying surgeons and operating room personnel about current products and future needs.  The emphasis on research during my coursework prepared me to collect and analyze quality data and report my findings in a concise manner.  The leadership opportunities Truman and the HES department offered me made me a stronger job applicant, and allowed me to develop skills that I use every day.

My advice to current or future HES students is to focus on developing the skills of a health education specialist and then think of ways “outside the box” to apply those skills.  I am in a position that there is no class for and I never thought I would be in, but the skills I learned at Truman are enabling me to excel.  Beyond that I would advise students to get to know the HES faculty.  They have a wealth of knowledge stemming from diverse backgrounds and are willing to help with everything from coursework to looking for internship and job opportunities.”
—Alex Connor (’16), Health Science-Healthcare Administration, Minor in Business Administration

Alex Connor
“Since graduating from Truman, I have been working with United BioSource Corporation, an Express Scripts Company. I work with both patients and physician offices to ensure patients have an opportunity to receive specialty and oncology medications. The best part is that we provide these medications to our patients completely free of charge! Truman’s Health Science curriculum allowed us to participate in so many different service learning opportunities all around Kirksville — I know it’s what drew me to a job where I am able to help others every day!”
—Meagan Thomas (’14), Health Science
Meagan Thomas
“I will always value the close bonds I had with my classmates and faculty. I was fortunate the HES department created more internship opportunities in Kirksville during the academic year. The Health Science faculty helped me find an internship opportunity at NEMO AHEC. I learned a lot from this experience and was happy our faculty helped me make connections. I was offered a full time position with NEMO AHEC shortly after completing my internship during the spring semester of my senior year. My Health Science background gave me everything I needed to be successful. In that position I worked with different populations and planned a variety of health education programs for students ranging from middle school to the undergraduate level. There was never a dull moment with my job. Then I accepted a position with Cerner. It’s great being able to keep in touch and be part of a strong and supportive HES community.”
—Jessica Wentworth, Health Science (’15)
Northeast Missouri Area Health Education Center (NEMO AHEC), Kirksville, Mo.
Jessica Wentworth
“I had wanted to attend Truman State since I attended a summer football camp as a sophomore in high school. My time at Truman was by far the best experience of my life, so far. When I first started my college journey, I knew that I wanted to do something in the medical/health field but nothing more specific than that; that is when I found the HES program and became fascinated with public health and epidemiology. After graduation, my life was a rollercoaster. I went from having a great job in my field to struggling to pay the rent, but it is important to persevere and never give up the pursuit of your dreams. I am proud to say that I have now found a way to utilize my degree and certification by helping develop my company’s Employee Wellness Program. The HES program and Truman absolutely prepared me for my professional future, however it was up to me to recognize the opportunities in front of me.”
—Daniel Mattheiss, CHES, Health Science (’14)
Daniel Mattheiss
“After graduating from Truman in 2013, I received my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a focus on Community and Behavioral Health from the University of Iowa.Following graduate school, I began working as a Senior Research Assistant in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.My current project is focused on developing user-friendly implementation guides that provide practitioners with the tools needed to build effective and sustainable tobacco control programs. My primary role is to synthesize the scientific literature, and write and edit the guides by translating complex research information into ‘everyday’ language for mass audiences.

Truman and the HES department were exceptional in preparing me for graduate school and my career. All of the projects, papers, and assignments that I completed in graduate school were very similar to those that I had already completed in the Health Science program. I felt I was more prepared for my graduate courses than students who graduated from other programs. For students who are interested in obtaining a MPH degree, joining the HES department is certainly one of the best choices you can make. You will be more than prepared for your graduate program and career to follow.”
—Erin Foster, Health Science (’13)

“The Health Science program at Truman State University was the perfect fit for me. The curriculum prepared me for a variety of careers in the health field and bridged the needed skill-set and knowledge to work in a wide range of diverse environments. The professors, with their guidance, enthusiasm, and compassion, make the HES Department stand out above the rest. The HES “hands-on” approach and focus on critical thinking ensures students are prepared for whatever path they choose to follow.

As a Health Educator and Outreach Coordinator with the Northeast Missouri Health Council, I am currently focusing on oral health. I have been able to start a new education program and expand the program to cover most of northeast Missouri. Providing education to schools, health departments, nursing homes, and other community partners has been exceedingly rewarding.”
—Amy Carroll, Health Science, (’10)

Amy Carroll
“As an undergraduate student who aspired to be Physician Assistant (PA), Truman’s HES Department was a perfect fit for me. The program had high expectations and fostered an environment in which I could excel. I enjoyed individual mentorship from professors who worked tirelessly to help me achieve my goals. With my HES degree, I was not only a competitive graduate school applicant, but was well-prepared for academic success in a rigorous PA program as well.”
—Caroline “Carrie” Nelson  (’15), Health Science
Carrie Nelson

“From the first moment I stepped onto campus, Truman was home. It always felt right. It gave me lifelong friendships, countless memories, and above all it helped me grow. Truman helped make me the woman I am today. After graduating in May 2015 with a B.S. in Health Science, I started the OTD program at Creighton University. I am currently planning my doctoral experiential component (January-May 2018). I am hoping to get into a pediatric site. I will also simultaneously be working on getting my therapeutic riding certification to teach therapeutic riding lessons! Basically my dream!”
—Maggie DeDecker (’15), Health Science
Maggie DeDecker

“Since graduating in 2015, I have spent a year in Anchorage, Alaska, for an Americorps Program where I served as the client services specialist at the local HIV nonprofit. I returned to Missouri in August and have started working at the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services as the HIV Health Educator for North/Central Missouri. It has been great to educate people in my home state on a subject I am passionate about! The Truman HES program did a wonderful job of preparing me for real world experience. I keep finding myself surprised about how much I was taught that I use directly in the field!”
—Erika Holliday (’15), Health Science
Erika - Health Science Graduate
“I have been with Missouri Mentor for over a year now! I’m a case manager for individuals with disabilities. Those disabilities include physical, behavioral, intellectual and mental disabilities. I facilitate anything they may need in their lives, from applying for Medicaid, to signing them up for vocational rehabilitation in order to obtain a job, to checking on their medications every month (I’m a level 1 Medication Aide), to providing behavioral support to both the caregiver and the individual, to handling their finances…you name it, I’ve probably done it. It’s a very diverse job and every day is different with something new to tackle. But I have found that my background in Health Science has helped me, particularly in being culturally competent and familiar with the health-related aspects of this job. I would not change this experience for the world, as it has made me a better person and has opened my eyes to how much injustice there is in the world (working in the field makes it much more real than just learning about it in school). It has made me thankful for the life I have and eager to dedicate my life in the service of others, whatever form that may be. I will definitely go to graduate school eventually; I feel HES was a wonderful platform from which to grow.”
—Taylor Telken (’15), Health Science
Taylor, Health Science graduate
“I’m a first year student in a three-year dual masters program at The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.  I’m pursuing degrees in Public Health and Social Work.  I have a concentration in health social work with a specialization in sexual health and education. I’m currently doing a practicum at the Contraceptive Choice Center serving as a health educator providing contraceptive counseling to patients one-on-one.  After graduation, I hope to continue working in a clinical setting to help bring better patient outcomes to the field of sexual and reproductive health by centering patient education and empowerment.  I’m also an active advocate for racial justice in St. Louis through the West County Community Action Network.  Overall, I’m thankful for the wonderful and holistic education I got through HES at Truman and I feel completely prepared to successfully navigate my program.”
—Ashley Kuykendall (’16), Health Science
Ashley, Health Science