A first cohort of students in Virginia Tech’s Master of Public Health program completed all requirements for the degree this past August. The program was launched in 2010 with the goal of increasing the number of public health professionals in Southwest and Southside Virginia, the Appalachian region, and beyond.

Seven students of the new Population Health Sciences Department in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine have already begun putting their public health training to work and are making an impact on their communities. “Some of these students transferred into the Master of Public Health program from another graduate program,” said Kerry Redican, associate director of the public health program and professor of population health sciences. “As a result they were able to complete the remaining coursework required for the Master of Public Health in one year. They will walk in the commencement ceremonies this December.”

The students, who range from mid-career professionals to full-time students, have a diverse set of career goals and interests. They include an epidemiologist supporting the New River Valley’s response to communicable diseases, a medical laboratory technologist pursuing a career as a public health educator, a recent Virginia Tech graduate applying for medical school, an MBA graduate of Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business focused on administration of long-term care facilities, an Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduate completing a pediatric residency, a registered dietician hoping to work as a educator for low-income families and youth, and a first-year veterinary student interested in veterinary public health.

“These students were all a part of our public health education track,” said Susan West Marmagas, assistant director of the program, who explained that the 42-credit Master of Public Health degree offers concentrations in both public health education and infectious disease.

“The program has been developed and is implemented in partnership with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and integrates and significantly expands public health opportunities at the university,” said Dr. François Elvinger, program director and professor and head of the Department of Population Health Sciences. “Our goal has been to expand the instructional, research, practice, and outreach opportunities for students and faculty and build partnerships with local, regional, state, and national health organizations and agencies.”

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