DEGREE EARNED: Master of Public Health (MPH)
HOW LONG IT TOOK: Approximately two years
WHAT ELSE I WAS DOING AT THE SAME TIME: I am a wife and a mother, and I took care of my parents through the end of their lives. My family is very close, and we do a lot together. My parents always drove me to go as far as I could go. My mother wanted her children to accomplish as much as they could. I want to be sure my kids see their parents as role models, too.
LOWEST POINT: It took a toll on me when my parents took a turn for the worse. It was hard to focus. I had my children, husband, and mentors pushing me. When my dad was rushed to the hospital, he said, “Div, do it for your kids. Do it for yourself.” I knew then I had to keep going.
HIGHEST POINT: Writing my second paper. Walden strengthened my writing abilities. It was no cakewalk. I appreciated all the comments and suggestions that helped strengthen my writing skills. I appreciated instructors who made sure to give me appropriate feedback for me to do better with each paper.
WHY I WAS DRIVEN TO EARN MY DEGREE: When I worked for the U.S. Air Force in Panama, where my husband was stationed, I was asked to assist with the collection of data about people with HIV/AIDS through interviews. We got more than expected and our study was enriched by the data. Even as a little girl, I knew I was going to be in a field that involved working with people in the community. It didn’t resonate until I went back home to Panama that I knew what my calling was going to be. Now, as a public health analyst at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that passion is reflected in my work; my duties include performing assessments of tuberculosis genotype clusters that could represent outbreaks.
WHEN I STUDIED: Study time was any time I had available. At work, it would be during lunch, but most often it was late at night. I’d wind down with my husband and daughter, cook and talk about our days, and then study, sometimes until midnight. I didn’t realize how late it was because I got into the subjects. One of my favorite subjects was policy, and I applied my knowledge while working in the Office of Health Equity.
WHAT KEPT ME MOTIVATED: My husband and children were my biggest cheerleaders. They respected my time. They kept me motivated by making me laugh and remember why I was doing what I was doing.
It was also very moving to be mentioned by Paula Singer during the commencement ceremony in January 2012. I teared up. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to embrace her as I walked across the stage. I persevered because of my faith and my family. I’m driven to use my degree to continue to make a change for the better. I encourage anyone pursuing a college degree to achieve it at Walden University!
MY NEXT BIG CHALLENGE: I plan to continue my education by pursuing my Ph.D.
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