Kristen Burden, MPH '15

Alumni Spotlight: Krista Burden, MPH

Kristen Burden, MPH '15

As a coordinator at a non-profit focused on food inequality, Krista Burden, MPH, is always on the go - even some of the farmers markets she coordinates are mobile. So, she was drawn to the flexibility and convenience of online learning through MCPHS.

Krista graduated with her Master of Public Health, a degree that she completed through our online learning experience.

Krista took some time from her busy schedule to talk about how she balanced career advancement with her personal and professional life while studying online.

Why did you choose the online Master of Public Health program at MCPHS?

I had a major life change: I lost 110 pounds! I wanted to be able to teach other people the importance of nutrition education and obesity prevention. I want to help teach children how to eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy lifestyle, across all cultural and economic barriers.

Why was online learning the right choice for you?

For me, it was about convenience. I had moved to Massachusetts from Kentucky, and I wasn’t sure how many years I would be staying in Massachusetts. I wanted a program that could essentially move with me and enable me to finish on my own terms.

Can you describe the online MPH program?

When people ask you what public health is, at first, it’s difficult to answer because public health is all around us, in everyday life. We just don’t often think of it in that way. The program teaches how to incorporate biological science and theory with social and behavioral science to create public health education and intervention.

What was a typical day in your online program like?

I incorporated the classwork at my convenience, so sometimes I worked on discussion boards and projects early in the morning and sometimes I would work on a paper late into the night. It really just depended on my workload on any particular week.

Was it collaborative?

Generally, most of the classes have a discussion board you respond to throughout the week in order to interact with your classmates and professors. Some classes also meet weekly via Blackboard Collaborate.

Looking back, what else stands out about online learning?

Online learning took self-discipline, something I have a great deal of, and I appreciated being able to take more time on the aspects I found more difficult and less time on those that were more familiar.

Work. Education. How did you balance it all?

I created to-do lists! They helped me keep me on track and allowed me to get a feel for where I was with assignments each week

What was your favorite part of the online learning experience?

I could learn at my own pace and from anywhere. I even spent a month in Hawaii while I was taking classes!

Did you have a favorite class?

Coming from a BA in Cultural Anthropology, I think my favorite course was Introduction to Behavioral and Social Sciences. However, I also really enjoyed Health Promotion and Education as well as the Maternal and Child Health courses.

How has this program help you grow in your career?

I am a Farmers Market Coordinator for the Regional Environmental Council in Worcester, MA. It’s a grassroots, non-profit focused on Food and Environmental Justice. We provide food access in neighborhoods and to housing developments where people have no or low access to healthy, locally grown produce.

I often find myself using what I’ve learned in the program in my work and that includes helping my organization understand our target population, how we can better serve them, building community relationships, and ultimately trying to provide the best service we can to an under-served population.

What’s your favorite #MCPHSmoment?

When I attended a Preparatory Seminar class in Boston where I was able to interact with my colleagues I had only “met” online previously. I was able to put a face and personality to the people I had been communicating with on discussion boards for two years.

Like Krista, you can balance world-class healthcare training and career advancement with the rest of your life, on your schedule by learning online.