UND will confer inaugural MPH degrees

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.— The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences will confer five Master of Public Health degrees at UND's general commencement at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, May 17, at the Alerus Center. The MPH Class of 2014 is the inaugural graduating class.

The following students compose the MPH Class of 2014:

  • Lydia Albjerg, Roseburg, Ore.
  • Heather Jackson, Minot, N.D.
  • Makenzie McPherson, Bismarck, N.D.
  • Lucy Nevanen, International Falls, Minn.
  • Pearl Walker, Fort Yates, N.D.

"We are very fortunate to have recruited the MPH students who are now graduating, and they will be our best ambassadors," said Professor Raymond L. Goldsteen, DrPH, who is the founding director of the MPH Program. "They are talented, motivated, and caring. Their goal to improve health in their communities and beyond exemplifies the spirit of public health."

The Master of Public Health program is a unique graduate program offered by the University of North Dakota that serves North Dakota and the northern plains.

"After graduation, I hope to obtain a public health position in North Dakota," said Makenzie McPherson.

Students can specialize in either health management and policy or population health research and evaluation. Both specializations emphasize the development of excellent critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills, which prepare students to serve the region. The inaugural Master of Public Health degree class started in the fall of 2012.

"Much credit for their development as public health professionals goes to our dedicated faculty at UND who have provided them with a rigorous academic program," Goldsteen said. "I speak for the faculty when I say that we are very proud to have played a role in these students' professional development."

Heather Jackson said, "Having my child as a teen and being a single mother encouraged me to ensure that I continue my education after high school. My MPH is my second master's degree. I have always been interested in social and structural issues that affect populations and individuals, so after getting my M.A. in Counseling, I decided to get an MPH. Both master's degrees have prepared me for my professional aspirations and personal interests, and I am hoping to find a job in the health care field doing research, prevention, mental health work and counseling, or health education. I will also continue to write, publish, and work as a birth doula."

After completing the MPH program, Pearl Walker plans to "Continue my education in a doctoral program for public health. I also intend to use the skills I have learned through the UND MPH program for my future career as a public health professional to help with research in my home community as well as to help with community wellness."

"My passions have always been to help the underserved," said Lydia Albjerg. "I have now been accepted to go to medical school at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Washington state. Though I will be heading west again, my education here has been invaluable in not only learning new cultures but also in helping me further understand rural and underserved needs in health in our country. I hope to use my education in public health and medicine to one day make significant changes to current policies so that more people in our country can access the health care services they need."

Lucy Nevanen will use her Master of Public Health degree to augment her work as a future health care professional. "Next year I will be attending the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry," she said. "My goal is to return to my hometown of International Falls and work as a general dentist. My MPH will help me better serve my community, especially the particular challenges that a small, rural town such as International Falls faces. With the knowledge I have gained from my MPH, I believe I will be able to focus not only on the oral health of one patient but on the oral health of the community as whole, thereby becoming a better dentist. I also hope to help educate others on the importance of public health and oral health by volunteering and participating in community and statewide service groups and organizations."