My Time at Wagner

Posted by Debbie Koh

Though it’s hard to tell with near 80° weather here in Southern California, fall is well underway – which means application season is in full swing. I’ve been talking to several prospectiveHealth Policy and Management students over the past few weeks, and they typically want to know the same things about my time at Wagner: my favorite or most valuable experiences, and some of the challenges I faced.

I’ll detail what I usually tell people below, but I’d love for readers to add anything you think prospective students should know in the comments section, especially insights from current students or recent graduates.

1)     Favorite or most valuable experience:

Of course this is a difficult question to answer, but my capstone project is probably the highlight of my Wagner experience. I was an International specialization and enrolled in a summer capstone session, so my group of four and I traveled to India to document best practices of a school lunch program for our client, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (our final product is available here).

This was an invaluable opportunity for me because I hadhad limited work and international field experience prior to graduate school. My capstone brought together what I learned in the classroom, from project management skills to international development theory to successful group work. I often cited examples from the project during job interviews, including my current employer.

2)     Challenges:

Being an International specialization in the HPAM program was sometimes an identity crisis for me. I knew I had an interest in global health specifically, so I applied to HPAM instead of the Public and Non-Profit Management program. Few of my January 2008 “spring start” cohort were also International specializations and I sometimes felt like my lack of desire to work in hospital administration or my limited passion for domestic health policy created a barrier between me and others in the program.

Eventually, I embraced being an HPAM-International student and sought to better represent this portion of the student body through my involvement with the Wagner Health Network (WHN). Though starting in the spring presented its own challenges, my extra semester allowed me to serve as both International Events Chair and Co-President of WHN. During my tenure I tried to plan events that bridged the International with the Policy, Management, and Finance specializations and to strengthen ties with other student organizations focused on international issues.

It’s been less than two years since I graduated, but I know things can change quickly. If you have an experience to share that might illustrate another aspect of Wagner that prospective students should know about or any additional words to share, please leave a comment and I would be happy to pass them along.

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