Maddie Kasimanickam

Maddie Kasimanickam

Maddie Kasimanickam, MPH '22

Public Health PhD student
Oregon State University

Global Health/International Health

Ask Maddie about the Oregon State MPH program.

   Ask Maddie

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

I chose the OSU MPH program for a variety of reasons. The program is highly recognized and substantially integrated with research and outreach activities. There are many opportunities to broaden your knowledge in this program or narrow down your academics and career focus with the classes you choose to take. I also grew up predominately living in college towns. Corvallis felt like home in that aspect every time I visited. It's not too far from my family either. Perhaps the most influential factor in my decision was the welcoming atmosphere I felt from the admissions staff and current students I communicated with before I committed to attending OSU. Feeling that sense of community, and knowing I was choosing a program with people who cared about my success, was very important to me.

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.I would have to say my most memorable experience was navigating the first year of the MPH program via Zoom with my cohort due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting with my peers online was a rewarding learning experience. Some of us were living close to OSU, while others were in another state or country. Despite the differences in physical distance, I think we all grew closer by bonding over starting the OSU MPH program during the pandemic.

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

Public health is a growing field. If you're interested in topics such as climate change, politics and social justice, infectious diseases, maternal health, and more, getting an MPH is a solid choice. The MPH program at OSU has a variety of disciplines and courses for everyone. I would highly recommend visiting the campus of your program if you can and connecting with members of the admissions staff or current students. Having the opportunity to do this as a prospective student helped me picture myself in the program. I understood how beneficial pursuing an MPH would be for my career aspirations. Be prepared to work hard! Graduate school is challenging, and good time management is an important skill to have.

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

The most impactful course I took during my MPH program was Epidemiological Methods I with Dr. Bethel. This course helped to significantly develop my understanding of Epidemiology and how it can be applied in the field of public health. Personally, this course was a springboard for me to take additional Epidemiology and Biostatistics courses to strengthen my skills in quantitative research methods while pursuing an MPH on the Global Health track. Now as a Public Health Ph.D. student, I aim to continue advancing my skills and pursue a doctoral minor in Epidemiology. Another impactful course that I took during my MPH program was H516: Research Methods in Global Health with Dr. Garcia. This course provided a great look into the qualitative research methodologies that are important for public health. Part of the course included a group project where we formulated a unique research question, practiced conducting in-depth interviews with each other, and qualitatively coded the conversations to see if we could identify themes and patterns to answer our research question. It was a great hands-on experience!

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

Immerse yourself in the various fields public health covers and the courses that the OSU MPH program has. Take that class about Geographic Information Systems, that class on Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and that class covering International Health. You'll enjoy them all. Get to know the people in your classes and program too. These connections will last a lifetime.

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

One of the most important lessons I learned while in the MPH program was to stay focused on the task at hand - don't worry about work when you're in class or studying, and don't let work or school interfere with spending quality time with family and friends. Time management is also an imperative skill to have in order to succeed in graduate school. Write out a schedule for the week where you can plan segments of time for studying, family and friends, exercise, and other tasks that need to get done.

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

MPH Ambassadors, join an intramural sports team through OSU.

What is the best part of your current job?

Building the bridge between what I have learned in classes as a graduate student and applying the knowledge to my current research endeavors.

What resources did you find most helpful during your job search?

Leaning on the connections I made with students, alumni, professors, and other faculty while in the MPH program. People were incredibly willing to provide advice, write letters of recommendation, and be a general source of support during Ph.D. application season.

What advice would you give current students as it relates to the job search?

Perseverance is key!