Unbeknownst to me year ago when I was newbie to the MPH program, I opted for online classes to ease into grad school life. I also did not know that there were no breaks between quarters. When one ended, the next one would begin the following week. This was even more of a challenge because I was still finishing prerequisites at the junior college, so I would not have had a spring break anyway. In hindsight, I don’t know how I survived that craziness, though I credit blissful ignorance more than anything. The 2015-2016 school year was indeed a blur. I forgot many things which were unrelated to school. I lost some friends. And I just decided I needed to put on blinders, shake off the guilt, and keep going.
Fast forward a year and I’m a little wiser. Research and writing don’t take me nearly as long and I somewhat know what professors expect. I figured out my passion, though I also realized students in the Nutrition program are very different than students in the Public Health program. The former makes me feel old and a little awkward, while the latter has an interesting mix of people from many different disciplines.
And despite the lack of a break a year ago, I find myself taking an online class once again, which overlaps the on campus classes, one which is about to end in a few days, and another which will start sometime mid-June. I just need to get this stuff done so that my final year of grad school, with a research project/dissertation needed to complete my MS, and along with an internship needed to complete my MPH, isn’t a total bear.
I also realized, however, that most of the people pursuing both degrees work full time. I do not, unfortunately, and my teaching schedule has whittled down to just 2 classes a week, 3 for the summer with the addition of a dance class on Sunday. It’s given me more time to really focus on school, but I also find myself yearning for a hands-on challenge. Hours sitting at the computer researching topic after topic has it’s ah-ha moments, of course. But perhaps the art major in me needs to go out and create something, even if it’s extracting DNA from squished strawberries (Biochemistry, Spring Semester 2016).
So, on somewhat of a whim I decided to enroll in the culinary arts program at the junior college where I just recently completed my science prerequisites. I figured, there is no set pace. I can put it on hold if I foresee a session-from-hell. I get to make stuff in a kitchen the proper way, and perhaps this will give me the necessary skills to teach others how to create healthy meals on a budget. With a graduate degree in Nutrition, this ties in perfectly, for I’m not able to work as a registered dietitian unless I decide to go backwards to pursue that path (but would need to take Chemistry II and Organic Chemistry first… ugh… no). Along with an MPH and my plans to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), I believe culinary skills will help with intervention designs, especially if my focus will be obesity prevention.
But as with everything I decide to jump into, we shall see. This summer I’m taking two online classes: Sanitation and Intro to Hospitality. They’ll be a bit accelerated because a regular 16-week course is compressed into 8 weeks. But I should be used to this by now since that is exactly what online graduate courses are like, which was another thing I figured out the hard way when I was a grad school newbie.
I think this will be a fun, no-pressure distraction during this final year of graduate studies. I’m looking forward to distractions, in an academic sort of way anyway.