My Life: Samantha Mills
While serving as a community health volunteer in rural Ecuador as part of her Peace Corps experience, Samantha Mills made a decision: She would pursue a degree and a career in public health.
“In the Peace Corps I was able to see how policies were implemented on a local level and really be a part of grass roots organizing and local initiatives,” she said. “One of my favorite projects was working with a women’s group promoting obesity and diabetes prevention.”
Mills, a first-year student at the U’s School of Public Health, earned bachelor’s degrees in international relations and Spanish from Michigan State University in 2008 before joining the Peace Corps.
After entering the Public Health Administration and Policy program at the University of Minnesota, Mills applied and was offered a job as the University’s Peace Corps recruiter.
Career Services helped her land recruiter job
Mills said the School of Public Health’s Career Services staff was instrumental in her landing the job.
“Career Services is great,” she said. “After meeting with them, the resumes that I sent out, people actually responded. And I really think that Career Services helped introduce me to public health positions, how to apply, the format, and really how to sell the experience that you’ve had to a public health audience.”
Peace Corps and the Public Health Nutrition Program
As the recruiter she has worked closely with the faculty director of the public health nutrition program. The program is now offering a Master’s International program that allows students to integrate the school’s nutrition curriculum with a Peace Corps experience.
“It’s really a great opportunity for students pursuing the public health nutrition degree to actually apply their skills in a real-world setting for two years through the Peace Corps,” Mills said.
Education and student life
As a student, Mills said one of the advantages to the School of Public Health is the access to faculty members and the broad but deep educational experience the school provides.
“The PHAP program gives you the background not only in the U.S. health care system and how that works, but really a good foundation in what is public health.”
And she’s found it easy to meet other students.
“The University of Minnesota has a really great student life,” she said. “It’s been fun getting to know a lot of other students. Everybody comes from a different background.
“The best thing about the School of Public Health is that it really helps you form your own community within the school and provides you that social network, as well as opportunities for all kinds of activities.”
About the Master’s International Program in Public Health Nutrition
The Peace Corps Master’s International program allows individuals to combine coursework for a Master’s of Public Health degree in Public Health Nutrition with an interdisciplinary concentration in global health and a Peace Corps international placement to create a single, seamless graduate education experience.