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Blanca Jara, Master of Public Health, 2021

by Monica Smith

Sep 29, 2022, 4:00 PM.

An alumna and first-generation college graduate highlights how her MPH degree helps her with a career working for a distributor of wine and spirits.
Blanca Jara
Blanca Jara

As an FIU student in the fully online Master of Public Health, Blanca Jara liked the interdisciplinary curriculum. The varied nature of the program, the only generalist public health program in the state university system, prepared her for her next position after graduation. One would think that with a master’s degree in public health, you may have to work in a clinical setting or within a state facility. Blanca found out that just isn’t so. In the following, she offers her thoughts on being an alumna, what she learned in her program and her current position. 

When did you graduate? 

I graduated from FIU in the fall of 2021 with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. 

Where do you work now, and what do you do? 

In February 2022, I started working as an environmental health and safety specialist (EHS) for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, a preeminent distributor of wine and spirits. In this role, I support the vice president of EHS, and the collective team of EHS regional directors, with planning, implementing, and enforcing company, federal, state, and local safety policies and procedures. 

What was your favorite class, and why? 

Community Health Promotion Planning and Research (PHC 6113). In this class, we not only learned the fundamentals of how to plan, implement, and evaluate health promotion programs for diverse populations, but we were challenged with creating our own health promotion program. This gave us the opportunity to interact with our classmates and faculty to refine our critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills. 

What immediately applicable skills did you learn? 

I learned critical thinking, effective communication, interprofessional collaboration, cultural competency and leadership. 

Why did you decide to study this area and choose this program? 

I chose FIU’s online MPH program as it offers the distinct advantage of an interdisciplinary curriculum. The program’s blend of concentrations allows graduates to become well-rounded practitioners, and this was my desire. Since the generalist program prepares students for careers in epidemiology, biostatistics, health promotion, health policy, and environmental health, we have the ability to propose ideas “outside-the-box” because we are not limited to one specialization area within public health. 

What did you learn that you didn’t expect? 

I learned how to be an effective communicator and leader by interacting with my classmates through a fully online platform. Surprisingly, sharing ideas and taking initiative without that in-person element made me better at doing it face to face. 

Would you recommend this program to other students? 

Absolutely! FIU’s online MPH program is ideal whether you already have or are desiring to initiate a career in public health. This program offers flexible course scheduling for working students. Faculty are knowledgeable professionals that instruct on real-world applications of valuable professional competencies to prepare students for successful careers. Plus, it is accredited by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). 

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