Eager to strengthen her skills in community health promotion, but reluctant to give up the job she loves as a WIC nutritionist, M.P.H. candidate Nicole Scambia found NYMC’s online Master of Public Health program offered a perfect combination of flexibility, dedicated faculty, and a vibrant learning community.
Tell us a little about your own personal journey. What motivated you to apply to SHSP at NYMC? Was there a specific trigger or moment?
I love working with children and local families as a nutritionist for the Westchester County Department of Health’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program where I’ve been since graduating four years ago from the University of Delaware with a degree in dietetics. But, I wanted to be able to impact the health and wellness of an entire community, not just the individual. There are so many factors that come in to play to change a community’s health status. It requires an inter-disciplinary approach, and a set of skills which I knew I could only acquire with an M.P.H.
Why did you choose NYMC?
Some of my colleagues at the Westchester Department of Health completed the M.P.H. at NYMC and spoke very highly of the program. While my classes are online right now, in the future, I may choose to take classes on campus—and NYMC’s location is convenient to work and home for me. What has been interesting is that even though NYMC is right in my backyard, I am being exposed to fellow students from all walks of life, and from locations far from Westchester.
I should add the opportunity to earn a Certificate in Health Education while earning the M.P.H was also a big draw. With the certificate, I will be eligible to take the exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).
What achievement have you been most proud of during your time at NYMC?
I feel really good about having done well in the program so far. I have a full-time job and am also a fitness instructor at Pure Barre fitness studio in Bronxville so my schedule is pretty busy. I work hard at time management and balancing my jobs, so it feels great to have a solid GPA.
What class or experience has had the greatest impact on your education and why?
The first class in the M.P.H program, Behavioral and Social Factors in Public Health Principles, was very inspiring. I began to understand the potential of this degree to impact population health. Also, the class helped me realize how many doors could be opening for me regarding my career as a result of earning this degree.
What professor or faculty member has had the greatest effect on you here?
I feel like all the faculty have been so helpful and accommodating. Before I completed enrollment, I received personal telephone calls helping me tailor my curriculum to fit with my interests and my schedule. Considering I came from a very large undergraduate school, this was a very welcome change.
What advice would you give incoming SHSP students?
I was initially concerned about how long the M.P.H. would take since I am doing it part-time. But, I got a great piece of advice from a faculty member: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.
I would tell students to take their time with the degree and only take on what you can handle. That way, you will enjoy it more—and, you will do better.
How do you unwind and relax when you are not working?
I love being outside, and I love working out so I try and combine those two things as often as I can. And I have a new puppy. His name is Chewy. He makes my outdoor workouts even better.