Jessica Barker


Jessica Barker

Jessica Barker, MPH '18

Health Engagement Director
Cigna Health Care

Health Promotion and Health Behavior program

Ask Jessica about the Oregon State MPH program.

   Ask Jessica

Why did you choose Oregon State University to pursue your MPH degree?

When I decided to attend graduate school I did research to see which schools aligned with my professional and personal goals. OSU had fantastic faculty and the research being produced was very in line with my interests. Additionally I wanted to live in the PNW and the OSU campus was beautiful!

What was your most memorable experience in the MPH Program?

Making it through H513 and really feeling like there we were all in this together for the remainder of the program. During my time with OSU I had many memorable experiences. However the experience I valued immensely was my work in the evaluation class with Veronica Irvin. I was able to create an evaluation plan for a generational walking program based in Salem. Not only did I create the plan, the group implemented it. Which felt really great as a graduate student.

If you were to recommend the MPH at Oregon State to a close friend, what would you tell them?

The faculty in the MPH program are very supportive in your graduate journey. I was an older student and I felt like my advisor and others really mentored me through the program. You will have access to so many different classes that give different perspectives to the public health field. Whether in person or e campus the MPH program is fully immersive and you will leave with a strong foundation in public health

What were the most impactful 2 or 3 courses that you took during your MPH program? Why were they impactful?

Community organization and evaluation. These two classes gave me an opportunity to experience our class work in the community. My focus has always been community health so these classes allowed me to not only learn the course material but also work in the community implementing strategies.

What advice would you give current MPH students to get the most out of their program?

I would tell them that they have access to highly revered faculty and they should utilize their time with them. The faculty have so much knowledge and connections to the field, it is wise to network as much as you can while in the program. Reach out to cohort members. Having a support system within the program will truly get you through those rough days.

How did you maintain study-work-life balance during school, and what advice do you have in this regard to current students?

I was fortune enough to have an assistantship during my time at OSU. So I was able to work part time and receive my stipend to pay for my life. So I was able to balance my school and work life. My advice would be to recognize your stressors, triggers and when you are overworked. In grad school it’s easy to work endlessly and forget to take a break for yourself. Set aside time for fun and mental health.

Which clubs, organizations, and/or activities would you recommend to current students?

Cultural centers, leadership opportunities within CBE.