Walden University student and lifelong learner explains how completing his practicum at the National Cancer Institute impacted his career.
PROGRAM: Master of Public Health (MPH)
WHERE I’VE WORKED: This summer, I was a research intern at the National Cancer Institute and completed my practicum at Adventist HealthCare in Rockville, Md., in the wellness and pastoral care departments.
WHAT I DO: At the National Cancer Institute, I studied ways to use genetic engineering and molecular biology to engineer mutant forms of Yersinia pestis, bacteria that have been implicated in causing bubonic plague. On some days, I had three or four experiments going on simultaneously. I worked on sequencing the bacteria’s protein, purifying the protein, and growing a protein crystal. The institute’s goal is to create a 3-D atomic structure and collect data to give scientists basic insight into how to develop drugs that counteract the bacteria in humans. Bubonic plague still exists and causes horrifying problems for humans every year, and it’s especially important to have an antidote because of the threat of biological terrorism.
My practicum at Adventist HealthCare was public health in action. Working directly with patients and the public was very different from laboratory research. It gave me broad exposure and practical experience. I also worked directly with the public at outreach activities such as health fairs, where I would help explain issues that pertain to health and wellness and offer blood pressure, cholesterol, and oral cancer screenings. Every Monday, I worked with on-duty chaplains who are recruited across all denominations by the hospital’s Pastoral Care Services department. We visited patient wards to offer counseling and prayer to patients, especially those in critical situations such as surviving cancer or being in intensive care.
WHY EARN A MASTER’S DEGREE FROM WALDEN? My degree from Walden is not limited to one aspect of public health. It encompasses everything from creating and participating in community projects and organizations to solving communication problems in the working environment and protocols in case of an emergency. My faculty members present public health as a broad health scenario, which I really like. My coursework has given me broad exposure to what it means to be a public health practitioner and prepared me to pursue my doctorate at Walden.
MY ADVICE TO OTHER WALDEN STUDENTS: Walden students can be confident that the faculty will always provide an academic environment conducive to learning. Your job is to work hard! When I participate a lot in class, the teacher has a good impression of me, and it keeps me on top of my game. I try to be one of the earliest to post because it gives you a strong connection to your teachers. If you don’t pick their brains, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity.
WHAT I PLAN TO DO AFTER GRADUATING: I’m applying for my PhD at Walden. I want to focus my career and my research on cancer prevention. I would also love to teach public health at the college level in the future.
HOW I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: I love laboratory work, but I have a passion for fieldwork that educates the public on prevention, especially when it comes to the environmental and occupational factors of disease. Prevention, to me, is a better way to treat cancer than developing a drug.
Irobi recently completed his MPH and re-enrolled at Walden in the PhD in Public Health program.
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