Former nursing student discovers a passion for public health

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Ryan Krivens

Former nursing student discovers a passion for public health

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Meet Health Hero Ryan Krivens

Fourth-year student Ryan Krivens, who is studying public health – health promotion and health behavior, is shortening the time needed to complete her MPH by participating in a College of Health accelerated master’s program.

She began her studies as a nursing student before realizing she could affect the health and well-being of more people by working in public health.

Why did you decide to study public health?

Initially, my decision to pursue public health was driven by a plan to transition to nursing school. However, I fell in love with public health’s focus on prevention instead of treatment, and I no longer plan to seek out nursing.  

Preventing health issues and addressing upstream, root problems create long-term change and will ultimately help to improve the health of more people.  

I am also drawn to the community-based approach in public health and appreciate the importance of working with communities to address their needs.  

Reducing health disparities and inequities is another component of public health that has drawn me in, because I believe all people deserve to have access to health care and health resources and achieve healthy lives.  

Choosing public health as my stepping stone for nursing school was lucky, and I am beyond happy I found my passion here.

What do you think of your experience at OSU/in the college so far? Any stand-out experiences? 

I have loved my experience with Oregon State University and the College of Health so far. The public health faculty and the friends I have made through my public health classes and involvement in Student Publich Health Association have absolutely been the most impactful, important piece of my experience here.  

One instructor in particular, Ashley Vaughn, has made a remarkable difference in my studies, confidence and aspirations. I have never felt as comfortable, appreciated and cared for in a classroom setting as I have with Ashley. The time, energy and consideration she puts into all of her classes and all of her students is extremely admirable, and I feel lucky to have been taught by her. She values every person and their unique perspectives.  

I am so grateful for the College of Health and look forward to continue growing alongside this inspiring community for the next couple of years.

Do you participate in campus or community clubs or organizations?

I am a club officer for PERIOD at OSU, which is focused on menstrual education, advocacy and service to help increase access to menstrual health resources, destigmatize menstruation and reduce period poverty. We plan menstrual product drives, fundraisers, educational events and activities such as period art to learn about and destigmatize menstruation in a fun and engaging way!  

I am also a member of the Student Public Health Association (SPHA), which has become such an important community to me. I have met a lot of meaningful people in my life through SPHA and enjoy gathering with individuals who share a passion for improving the health of our population.  

The club addresses diverse public health issues and topics each term, providing opportunities for continuous education, skill building and professional development. SPHA has become an integral part of my college experience, offering a place for both personal and professional growth.

What are your post-college dreams?

In the past year or so, my aspirations following college have revolved around joining the team at Planned Parenthood as a health education specialist or a related role. The organization’s mission resonates with my commitment to public health, and I am dedicated to reducing health disparities and believe everyone deserves access to high-quality health care and health resources.  

Within the realm of public health, my primary passion lies in HIV/AIDS and STI prevention. My overarching goal is to contribute to the education and destigmatization of sexual health, fostering an environment where individuals feel not only comfortable but also empowered to seek necessary care.  

I believe that everyone should have the confidence to manage their sexual health, and it is my sincere hope to play a role in helping individuals achieve this confidence and take proactive steps in caring for themselves and their well-being.

Have you completed a public health internship? If so, where and what did you learn from the experience? 

I completed an internship this past summer with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) department at Marion County Health & Human Services in Salem, Oregon.  

The focus of my internship was to implement the Breastfeeding Promotion and Celebration Campaign, which involved planning events to celebrate breastfeeding and educate WIC clients on its importance while staying within budgetary constraints, developing educational materials tailored to specific minority groups in both English and Spanish, highlighting breastfeeding resources, and conducting outreach within the community.  

Throughout this experience, I learned so much about breastfeeding, my future career goals and priorities, and potential career opportunities within the county health department that align with my interests.  

Collaborating with WIC was a worthwhile experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Breastfeeding Promotion and Celebration Campaign alongside a fantastic, supportive team.

Have you received a scholarship? If so, how has it affected your life and your studies? 

I earned the Finley Academic Excellence Scholarship, which has allowed me to save money during my undergraduate studies to put toward the accelerated graduate program in public health I started this year.