The Executive Online MPH program at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) interviews Paula Demassi Sanjurjo as the program celebrates its inaugural academic year by highlighting the experiences of some of the first students to enroll in the program.
Why did you choose to attend the Yale School of Public Health’s Executive Online MPH program?
PDS: The Executive Online MPH program at YSPH was my first choice because it has a sound public health curriculum complemented with design thinking, management, and leadership courses. As I want to lead multidisciplinary teams, I need these skills to move into a management position. Also, I like to be involved in campus activities, but I cannot stop working full time. Having the opportunity of attending intensive sessions on campus is perfect for me.
What is your current occupation?
PDS: I am a project officer at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. My area promotes strong national drug observatories and supports the establishment of drug information networks and early warning systems to improve drug-related data collection, analysis, and dissemination among other things.
What are your favorite aspects of the Executive Online MPH program?
PDS: Even though it is an online program, you are required to attend classes at specific times and are required to hand in homework every week. You can manage your own time, but also need to meet certain weekly deadlines. The program doesn't let you fall behind, but you have enough flexibility to have your own schedule. I do not have any problems balancing my work responsibilities with the program. I am learning a lot, but I don't feel I can't handle the workload. The faculty is amazing and very supportive of the needs of professional adults. My classmates are phenomenal, personally and professionally. There is amazing camaraderie, and we help each other succeed.
How do you balance working full time with the demands of the program?
PDS: I do not find it hard to balance my work responsibilities with the demands of the program. I attend classes at night, two times or three times a week, and I use weekends to do homework.
How do you hope to apply the training and education you receive through the Executive Online MPH program to your future endeavors?
PDS: I would like to apply what I learn to help countries find solutions to health issues arising from drug use. In the future, I would be thrilled to be part of a team that gives expert opinions and advice to countries as they do policy reforms and develop drug control programs with a holistic approach to population health. I see myself continuing with international work, as I firmly believe that working together is the most effective way to develop comprehensive guidelines and policies in public health.
Would you recommend the Executive Online MPH degree program to others and why?
PDS: Absolutely. The faculty really understand that we are adults with work and family responsibilities. Schedules, classes and homework are well organized and take into consideration the cohort's preferences. Even though we are not on campus, they go above and beyond to make us feel close and important. Classes are very interesting and are enriched by my classmates' points of view, as they come from different backgrounds. I am having an amazing experience!