Whitney Greger, MPH 2016
Health Education Program Coordinator at Champaign-Urbana Public Health District
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Most recently, I have been involved as an Operations Section Lead for CUPHD’s COVID-19 response. It has been truly remarkable to work through this pandemic to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Champaign County. We have put together a multidisciplinary team here at CUPHD complete with health educations, case managers, special projects coordinators and even dental hygienists to lead our response. I love the people I get to work with and we will always have a special bond of fighting a pandemic together!! In my normal job as Health Education Program Coordinator, I enjoy the variety of different health education topics I get to work on and the diverse community partners I get to work with. I also (weirdly) enjoy the process of grant writing.
What inspired you to pursue an MPH degree?
I was first exposed to public health during my undergraduate career at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) where I worked for the University’s Health Education Resource Center (HERC). During my time as student worker I became very interested in prevention and education. The HERC’s programming was tailored to students and faculty at EIU but I wanted to learn more about the broader scope of community and population health. I knew that I wanted to go on and pursue higher education after completing my Bachelor’s degree but I was having difficulty pinpointing exactly what I wanted to study. I learn about a Master of Public Health degree being an option but, truthfully, I didn’t know much about it. After digging deeper and researching exactly what
public health was and what public health organizations do for their communities I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.
What did you choose Illinois for your MPH?
I chose UIUC for a few different reasons—it has world renowned research programs, highly trained and experienced faculty and a diverse student population. I was also extremely pleased with how easy the application process was. The MPH Program Coordinator at the time was
always available and was quick to answer any application questions. I was also intrigued by the smaller cohort sizes. I knew it would mean that I would get more attention from professors and get to know the other students in my cohort.
How did your Illinois MPH degree help prepare you to work in the field OR what were the highlights of your time in the MPH program?
I think that the Practicum and Capstone experiences most prepared me to work in the field of public health. I completed both projects at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and got a full picture of public health in action. For my Practicum, I studied mosquito populations and West Nile Virus in the Champaign-Urbana Area. I completed a research project that focused on improving mosquito larvicide retention in catch basins. It was very rewarding to see the results from my research being used to influence program decisions! The MPH program faculty and staff work very hard to make sure that you are prepared for those experiences and that you know how to get the most out of them.
What advice do you have for current students OR prospective students?
Take advantage of every opportunity. Seek out volunteer opportunities in the community—there are plenty! You will get out of your Practicum and Capstone experiences what you put in to them—make the most! Be a part of some type of research. Network, network, network! Make presentations and talk to different groups of people. Subscribe to an email listserv to receive daily emails on public health issues (I prefer Public Health Newswire from APHA). Go to office hours. Meet regularly with your advisor. Make use of resources on campus like the Career Center—you don’t get that after graduation!