I'm Going To Graduate School!

Originally posted 2/21/19

Hello!

Per the title of this post, I was recently accepted to the University of Minnesota's Coordinated Master's Program in Public Health Nutrition! I'm so happy and proud to be able to announce it to the world, shout it from the rooftops, post it to the blog, etc.

What is a Coordinated Master's Program? 

To become a dietitian, as has been my plan for a while now, I need to complete my undergraduate degree in dietetics, followed by completing an accredited internship. Some internships are didactic, meaning that they are independent of an educational program and are to be completed after DPD coursework has been completed.

Other programs are coordinated, meaning that educational coursework and supervised internship hours are scheduled to happen concurrently within the scope of the program. Most coordinated programs that exist are Masters of Science in Nutrition programs, but there are a few, like mine, that are coordinated with Masters of Public Health programs.

How long will it take me to graduate? 

I will start at the University of Minnesota in the Fall of 2019, and I will complete six semesters (Fall, Spring, and Summer), before graduating at the end of Summer 2021. During the Fall and Spring, my internship hours will be scheduled alongside coursework in Public Health Nutrition. I get to take courses in community nutrition interventions, global and lifespan nutrition, bio-statistics, and more! In the summers, I'll be doing full-time internship hours at different locations to gain supervised practice experience in clinical and community nutrition settings.

When I graduate at the end of Summer 2021, I will receive my Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree. I will also be eligible to sit the certification exam to become a registered dietitian, because throughout the course of the program, I will have completed the 1200 supervised practice hours required of a dietetic internship.

What is Public Health?

I could write a whole bunch about what public health is, but this video does a much better job of explaining!

Why Public Health?

For the last 2 years at St. Kate's, I've been doing a lot of on-campus work related to food insecurity in university students, focused on our campus food shelf and community gardening. For some reason, I had never before associated the work I was doing with an interest in public health, though food insecurity is DEFINITELY a public health topic. Even as a college senior, I still have a lot to learn! One of my professors literally had to tell me, "Natalie, I can see that you have a large interest in public health, I think you would do really well in a public health nutrition field."

My application process

In the conversation where my professor told me that Public Health was my area of interest, she also recommended that I apply to the Coordinated Master's Program at UMN. I'd heard of the program before, but was a little unsure about MORE school. But, after researching the program, doing some soul searching, and thinking more about my interest in public health, I decided to apply.

The requirements of graduate programs will vary by school, but the UMN School of Public Health uses SOPHAS (School of Public Health Application System) to coordinate its applications. I was required to submit official transcripts, take the GRE and submit my official scores, submit a personal statement and resume, fill out a survey form, ask for letters of recommendation, and probably a couple of other things too. It was a laborious process, but I had a lot of support! So many friends, family, and professors looked over my personal statement and resume to offer suggestions.

I was really nervous about applying to a graduate program, because I was nervous about not being good enough to get in. Throughout the process of writing (and rewriting and rewriting) my personal statement, I got to do a lot of reflecting about the experiences I've had and things I've accomplished since I got to college. My advisers and professors were all encouraging and kept telling me that a strong personal statement must clearly articulate all of the reasons why I am an excellent candidate for the program. As I wrote, I started to really believe and internalize what I was saying about myself. I am "dynamic" "enthusiastic" "passionate", etc. Through writing, I gained confidence in knowing that even if I didn't get in, I'd be a strong and well-rounded candidate for other programs.

I'm so happy and thankful that I was accepted! Graduate school wasn't even on my radar until last fall, but I am so excited to follow this new path after I graduate this May!