June 24, 2024

Jennifer Mahram is committed to improving the lives of as many people as she can by bringing her knowledge of psychology to the field of public health. She is passionate about the critical role that mental health plays in society.

That drive to improve the health and well-being of people and communities led the 23-year-old from Roslyn, N.Y., to earn an undergraduate degree in psychology from Binghamton University in 2023.

But Mahram wasn’t done with Binghamton yet. She applied to the University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program offered by Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Master of Social Work program offered by the College of Community and Public Affairs.

“I was genuinely hoping for acceptance into the MPH program,” Mahram admits. “Getting admitted was a moment of genuine joy!”

Mahram began the two-year MPH program in fall 2023 as a full-time graduate student, although the MPH program also offers options for part-time study. In addition, she is the first graduate assistant for the Division of Public Health. The funded role, which will last throughout the 2023-24 academic year, requires that Mahram work 16 hours a week in the MPH program office.

“Being the first funded student in the MPH program is a testament to the program’s growth and commitment to supporting its students’ professional development,” Mahram said.

BingUNews caught up with this busy student during winter break to learn more.

Q. What prompted you to get an MPH degree?

I am pursuing an MPH degree to deepen my understanding of public health, seeking knowledge beyond psychology to augment my career goals. I aspire to integrate public health principles into my psychology background, enabling a more comprehensive approach to addressing the well-being of individuals and communities.

Q. What made you choose Binghamton’s MPH program?

After cherishing my undergraduate experience here, choosing Binghamton’s MPH program was a natural progression! I was determined to pursue my graduate education in a familiar and esteemed environment.

Q. Did the pandemic and its focus on public health influence your decision to pursue the public health field?

The pandemic undoubtedly played a significant role in steering my interest toward public health. However, it wasn’t solely responsible; my passion for science and medicine also heavily influenced my decision to pursue an MPH degree. The pandemic heightened my awareness of public health’s critical role in safeguarding communities, aligning perfectly with my fascination for the scientific and medical aspects of public health.

Q. As an MPH student and graduate assistant, you have a lot of knowledge about Binghamton’s public health program. What stands out to you the most?

One unique aspect of the MPH program is the emphasis on gathering student input to continuously enhance the program. The MPH faculty and staff actively listen to students, fostering an environment where feedback shapes program improvements. Additionally, the commitment of the faculty and staff to personally engage with every student creates an environment that is favorable to developing meaningful relationships and provides ample opportunity for learning beyond the curriculum.

Q. What do you like (and not like) about working in the MPH program office?

I appreciate the strong bonds I’ve formed with my professors and colleagues, as well as the creative aspect of designing program flyers. Occasionally, there’s an overlap in workload between the job and the demands of the master’s program during peak periods. This overlap might feel overwhelming, but it is an excellent opportunity to improve my time management skills and efficiently manage multiple tasks.

Q. What does having a paid assistantship mean for you financially?

Graduate school doesn’t typically offer tuition aid. As I aimed to cover the costs myself, the funding I received has been a huge support. Without it, I would have had to take out a substantial loan to cover my expenses for tuition and rent. Additionally, this job has reassured my family, making them more comfortable with my decision to stay in Binghamton to pursue my master’s degree.

Q. You’ll complete the two-year MPH program in spring 2025. What are your plans after that?

My goal is to pursue a PhD in psychology. Alternatively, I might begin my career in either a mental health institution or an addiction center, applying the knowledge and skills gained from my MPH to contribute effectively to these vital areas of healthcare.

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