The Executive MPH program at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) is celebrating its inaugural academic year by highlighting the experiences of some of the first students to enroll in the program. The following interview highlights the experience of Lt. Cmdr. Edwige Djassa.
Why did you choose to attend the Yale School of Public Health’s Executive MPH program?
ED: I chose YSPH’s Executive MPH over other programs because of the school’s vast alumni network and resources. This program offers a part- time curriculum to be competed over two years for working professionals who have to balance the demands of a full-time job and family obligations. Besides, the program offered a $10,000 scholarship, which made it attractive. In addition to required core courses in public health, the Executive MPH offered a track in critical topics in public health with courses best suited for a position in public health program management. Finally, but not least, YSPH has some of the best qualified and world-renowned faculty and researchers in the world and it is a privilege to be taught by them.
What is your current occupation?
ED: I am a board-certified family nurse practitioner (FNP) and Lieutenant Commander (active duty) Commissioned Corps Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service. I am currently stationed in Phoenix, Arizona where I practice as a FNP in a primary care clinic. I have been serving Native American/Alaska Native patients for the past 10 years in Arizona and its surrounding reservations.
What are your favorite aspects of the Executive MPH program?
ED: The program is flexible in accommodating students. The admission process was smooth, and the team provided multiple information sessions. The professors are experts in their fields and very relatable. The hybrid format gives me the flexibility to work full time, attend online classes in the evening and collaborate with my peers on specific projects during the intensive sessions on campus. Students in my cohort come from a diverse background and we have a great camaraderie. Students are expected to think outside the box to solve real life problems. The $10,000 scholarship was very helpful as well.
How do you balance working full time with the demands of the program?
ED: Live sessions are held in the evenings. Classes are taught in a format that makes them easily accessible 24/7 and while on the go. Because public health is my passion, I see the demands of the program as a necessary path to reach my career goals while enjoying this journey.
How do you hope to apply the training and education you received through the Executive MPH program to your future endeavors?
ED: I plan to serve overseas and focus on global public health program management affecting vulnerable populations. I would like to specialize in public health matters related to Africa specifically and work with government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Agency for International Development or international health organizations such as the World Health Organization. I would also like to focus on initiatives aimed at building capacity and strengthening health care systems and service in Africa in particular.
Would you recommend the Executive MPH degree program to others and why?
ED: I would definitely recommend this program. YSPH has a track record of producing public health professionals of high caliber who are determined to drive change around the world. The program is flexible for working professionals who aspire to advance in their careers, explore new opportunities or change career paths. Students are also allowed to choose classes of interest from other schools within Yale in order to enhance their learning experience. The cohort is diverse in terms of professional backgrounds and life experiences. Discussion sessions are fun, and students are allowed to debate their ideas while emphasizing new design thinking framework to solve real life public health challenges.