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Student Spotlight - MA in Health Studies (Health Promotion)

David Tosh

David ToshI am a Medical Service Corps Officer in the Army, and several years ago I thought it would be a good idea to further my education to advance my career. I wanted a degree that would lead to career opportunities both during and after my military service, and I wanted it from a school that everyone would recognize. 

Well, it is hard to believe sometimes, but I completed the online Master of Arts in Health Studies two years ago! Prior to applying, I had been nervous about graduate school. Could I handle the stress? Was I too old? Could I actually do it? Yes, no, and yes! 

The University of Alabama is very friendly to veterans and service members, and adept at handling VA processes. I never once had an issue with military benefits. The staff and faculty were always very responsive to my questions. Although I lived several states away, I always felt connected to UA. 

The program itself was great, and I had the flexibility to take as many courses as I could handle at a time — typically I took two per semester. To help alleviate my concerns about stress, I took HHE 586 Stress Management as an elective during my first semester. It is an excellent class, and I still refer back to lessons I learned from it. 

The Health Studies graduate program is challenging, but rewarding. I truly enjoyed being a student. There were things I took away from every class that continue to influence my work. The Health Studies degree is very viable and versatile; with this degree, I feel confident that I will be competitive in my career field, and upon retirement, I will have additional avenues and possibilities to pursue. 

Looking back, I am proud of my educational accomplishments at UA. When it came time to graduate, I decided to drive my family from Texas to Tuscaloosa for the ceremony. It was among the most special events of my life. My children were 5 and 8 years old at the time. The experience will surely leave a lifelong impact on them and serve to reinforce the importance of education. The campus is utterly beautiful and I plan on returning to visit as often as possible. I will always be proud to be an alumnus of such a prestigious institution. Roll Tide Roll!

Megan Lewis Freedman, MA, MCHES

Megan Lewis Freedman

Megan Freedman, project manager for a small business that specializes in health literacy, wanted a master’s degree that would complement her on-the-job training and help her advance her knowledge in the field of public health. After thorough research, this mother of three from Massachusetts found that the online Master of Arts in Health Studies from The University of Alabama would give her the education and opportunity to attain the credentials to help her reach her career goals.

“I was looking for a flexible program in health communication or education that I could complete online. I found out about the UA program through my online research,” she said.

As project manager, Freedman helps her company create information that can be accessed, understood and used by people in their daily lives. She manages the company contract with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, which includes content development and maintenance for HealthyPeople.gov and healthfinder.gov, so having a degree that would allow her to earn higher-level credentials in the field of health promotion was important to her.

“The Health Studies curriculum looked well designed, with a strong emphasis on theory. I also wanted a program that would make me eligible to sit for the exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist.”

Preparing students to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist or Master of Certified Health Education Specialist exam is one of the key goals of the UA Health Studies program. These exams assess the extent to which a candidate can possess, apply and interpret knowledge relative to the Seven Areas of Responsibility.

“I found that the UA Health Studies curriculum is great preparation for either the CHES or MCHES exam. When it was time to study, there were no surprises in the Seven Areas of Responsibility for health educators. I went into the exam with a solid foundation, including an understanding of how theory can be applied in various settings.”

“The education I received through the Health Studies program has made me a more creative thinker. There’s always more than one way to tackle a problem, and theories offer a selection of frameworks for strategic thinking,” Freedman continued.

Upon graduation from UA, Freedman took that exam and achieved the highest score in the nation out of all candidates who took the fall 2013 exam.