UT Tyler

Graduate Student Alumni Spotlight

Health Sciences MS

Jessica HydeStudent Name:  Jessica Hyde, MS, CHES

Program: Master's of Science in Health Sciences

Graduated: 2014

Employer: Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, TX

Position: Program Specialist IV – Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program

What attracted you to this field?

I have been interested in health from a very young age. My father had health textbooks and medical reference books that I loved to read. I would let the book fall open and start reading about whatever disease or condition was on the page. I was the kind of kid who, after learning about the effects of smoking in junior high health class, started showing smokers pictures of diseased lungs. I just could not understand why that alone was not incentive enough to stop smoking. That was the start of my interest in health education and communication.

Why did you choose UT Tyler?

I chose to attend UT Tyler because it offered a university education that was close to home. This was extremely important to me since I was already married, working, and supporting a family by the time I started my upper-level undergraduate and graduate coursework. Since I was familiar with the program and the department faculty, and was already involved with research projects as an undergraduate, I chose to continue my studies at UT Tyler after obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Health Studies degree.

What do you like most about UT Tyler?

I loved the small class sizes at UT Tyler. This allowed for more individualized, one-on-one attention from faculty mentors that bigger campuses cannot offer. Because of that attention, students are able to be actively involved in research projects during their undergraduate and/or graduate careers.

The professors at UT Tyler were also very good at encouraging students to pursue their own ideas for research or community activities. I found that because I was able to work very closely with faculty in the department on their research, I had a better grasp of what to expect when I started my own research for my Master’s thesis project.

The faculty members were actively engaged with local public health organizations and encouraged students to do the same in order to gain field experience. The social capital I garnered through working with community organizations and other public health stakeholders has proven to be invaluable.

The coursework in the Health Sciences program gave me the opportunity to build up a very broad knowledge base about various aspects of public/population health so that my education served as a launch pad for several career possibilities: health education, epidemiology, program planning, etc. Upon graduation, I felt prepared for wherever my career as a public health professional would take me.

What are your career aspirations?

Ultimately, I would like to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or even the World Health Organization (WHO) as a health educator or program planner. I plan to eventually pursue a PhD in Public Health; however, I wish to gain real world work experience before continuing my academic career.

What’s your work experience?

I currently work for the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, Texas, as a Program Specialist for the Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. My position promotes the implementation of priority areas of the Texas Cancer Plan, specifically evidence-based activities that focus on tobacco prevention and cessation.

During my academic career at UT Tyler, I worked as a teaching/research assistant to Drs. Cheryl Cooper and William Sorensen, as well as a medical records coordinator and outpatient scheduler at Tyler Cardiac & Endovascular Center. Alexsis Grasmick, a fellow graduate student, and I were also contracted by the Northeast Texas Public Health District to complete a community health needs assessment to inform the development of the Center for Healthy Living in Tyler, Texas.

Do you have any advice to pass along to other students interested in this program?

I would highly suggest to any student interested in the Health Sciences program to shadow a faculty member with similar interests to their own. The professors are always eager to find ways to get students involved in research or community activities in order to broaden students’ experiences and skills. Students should get to know their professors well; the experiential knowledge they have to impart cannot be found in a textbook.

Find out more about our Master of Science in Health Sciences

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