For Michaela Seiber, a career in public health has always been her future. With a desire to impact the health of South Dakota, she was eager to start her job at Avera in Sioux Falls after graduating South Dakota State University in 2013 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Looking to continue her education in public health, but not wanting to leave her position at Avera, Seiber knew the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University online Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program was her solution.

"As soon as I heard about the USD and SDSU joint program, I knew that it was what I had been waiting for," Seiber said. "I never wanted to have to move to another state in order to enroll in an M.P.H. program, so the introduction of this program in my home state, where I want to continue to work, was absolutely perfect.

"The flexibility the online program offers has been a huge benefit."

Deborah Rumrill USD
Michaela Sieber

Since joining the program, Seiber has continued working full time at Avera, where she manages clinical trials in Avera's oncology research department. She has also participated in a graduate research assistantship and taken classes full time to earn her Master of Public Health degree.

The online aspect of the program has allowed Seiber to expand her knowledge of the field in a broad range through the student sharing of different experiences and solutions to problems each is seeing in their field. The program opened her to a world of knowledge about her field, one she never expected to gain through an online program.

"The online program attracts students from all areas of the country, which has an added benefit of expanding the worldview of everyone else," Seiber said.

"The variety of backgrounds that my classmates come from provide a really good view on fields that I'm not familiar with … I have learned so many things, and I feel really prepared to offer insight for all areas of public health," she continued.

In addition to the experiences and insight Seiber has gained, there are the strategies of understanding public health that her instructors have provided.

"The faculty who administer the courses really ask us to think critically and apply the coursework to our everyday life. They are so supportive and knowledgeable which provides immeasurable insight into this field," Seiber said.

Seiber's favorite part about the entire M.P.H. experience has been working with the passionate faculty and staff. "As an undergraduate, I never really was able to find a connection with any of my professors, and throughout this program I have been supported beyond what I expected," she said.

Seiber not only credits her success in the M.P.H. program to the faculty and students, but also to the SDSU and USD collaboration. According to Seiber, the experience would not be the same without the element of collaboration between the two universities.

"Both schools have things to offer that the other does not, which allows for a well-rounded learning experience for students in the program. It lets students make connections with professors and classmates that they might not otherwise interact with," said Seiber.