Shirley Callaghan took a break from studies while continuing her established career as a medical lab scientist when her son was born in 2001.
After graduating from Concordia University’s School of Community and Public Affairs in Montreal, Callaghan knew she wanted to earn her master’s degree eventually. Once she began looking for an online program, she came across the UVM Master of Public Health program and applied.
“I remember thinking, ‘this is what I’ve been waiting for,” she says. “It’s multidisciplinary, it’s online, and it’s almost a natural progression from what I learned at Concordia.”
The UVM Master of Public Health Program
UVM’s 42-credit, online Master of Public Health degree, developed in collaboration with the Larner College of Medicine, prepares students for a variety of public health careers. In 2017, Callaghan started working for the American Red Cross as a medical lab technologist, while continuing her MPH studies.
The UVM public health master’s program gave the Grand Isle resident a chance to explore information technology, research applications, and trends in medicine. It also helped her build confidence as she planned for the future in her career and community organizations.
“The program answered a lot of questions—by having to find answers with guidance from UVM’s world-class professors,” she says. “The more you put into the program, the more you get out of it, and the experience allowed me to feel more confident and to understand what is important in the field.”
At her job at the American Red Cross, Callaghan performs basic and advanced donor and patient tests, and interprets results to determine donor-recipient compatibility.
“I like the variety of my job, and it’s quite hands-on,” she says. “In every situation, there’s the opportunity to help somebody. I can’t underestimate the work we do and the details involved—the dotting of the I’s and crossing of the T’s. It keeps us on our toes.”
Callaghan says the UVM public health program helped her get to where she is today and recommends it highly to anyone who is considering applying.
“I think the program is a good opportunity to gain so much knowledge and learn how to build the tools to advocate for the community—both globally and locally,” she says.