Having been motivated initially to explore the Master of Public Health program through her work with at-risk children in community science initiatives and with young students in public education, Deborah Rumrill soon learned the M.P.H. program perfectly fit her in more ways than one.

As she learned the students' personal stories, Rumrill saw how social determinants of health impacted their lives. It was then she realized she wanted to explore opportunities in public health to improve communities from the perspective of prevention.

Currently living in Pierre, and working for the Pierre School District helping students develop educational research and literacy skills, Rumrill appreciates that she is able to continue her work in Pierre and pursue her degree.

"For me this meant I didn't need to uproot my family or leave them behind. I also am able to pursue goals related to my current position," Rumrill said.

Deborah Rumrill USD
Deborah Rumrill

After joining the program, she continued to learn what the program had to offer.

"It will enable me to expand my professional career into many new arenas," Rumrill said. "The program allows me to incorporate my scientific training in biology and policy and my work experience in science, education and literacy to make a difference in the health of communities, locally and globally."

One of her favorite parts about the M.P.H. program is the encouragement of the professors who challenge her to explore and make contributions to areas of public health not yet reached in a variety of disciplines. The challenges are never without the opportunity to become a stronger scholar and the support of faculty members. Students are equipped with the practice they will need before stepping into the world of public health.

"It's a dynamic, flexible, evidence-based academic program that will prepare you with the theory, concepts and skills essential to practice public health successfully in many different cultures, communities and fields of study,” Rumrill said. "The professors are excellent and dedicated to creating online-learning communities within each course as well as within the program."

The online aspect of the program allows for productive interaction with not only faculty members, but also with a diverse group of students. It does not hinder student interaction or experiences, but rather encourages them. Some of the work involved in the program includes:

  • Participating in team health research projects
  • Engaging in case studies
  • Attending conferences
  • Creating video-based advocacy resources

Rumrill enjoys the online program because of the diversity it creates in the classes.

"I enjoy that many of my classmates are across the state, the country and even the world," she said. "They are not just from a different place; they are simultaneously living in different communities and sharing diverse, real-time perspectives of issues, problems and solutions in public health as they experience it in their community and culture."

The program supports diversity in ways that allow for all sorts of connections and insight. The program's collaboration between SDSU and USD opens students to the possibilities of collaboration in the work field.

"It feels seamless, as though the public health program is really just one departmental program at a single university. For me, a primary benefit of the collaboration is access to an accomplished group of professors and administrators who bring a wealth of knowledge, diversity, expertise and instructional methods to the program," Rumrill said. "The willingness of the two universities to collaborate embodies an important practice expected in many career fields. Collaboration is full of creative potential; it is a process I look forward to sustaining as a practicing public health professional."