A bachelor’s degree was not going to get Kristina Davis where she wanted to go.
But she’s going places now.
Davis has watched her career skyrocket since graduating in 2010 from one of Benedictine University’s dual master’s degree programs – the Master of Science in Nutrition and Wellness/Master of Public Health.
Shortly after graduation, Davis was selected as a Prevention Science Fellow, a one-year federal fellowship through which she worked on the development and implementation of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and Healthy People 2020.
Her fellowship led to a position as a research specialist for the American Hospital Association Health Research and Educational Trust, where she manages and supports national hospital-based interventions to reduce hospital-acquired infections.
The Columbia, S.C., native said it made sense to earn a graduate degree to acquire the skill sets needed in the area in which she planned to work.
“Benedictine University was one of the few places in the United States where you could focus on public health and nutrition at the same time,” Davis said. “Since many of the public health problems in the United States currently are linked to nutrition, it made sense to me to pursue degrees in both fields.”
Davis also found the professors at Benedictine to be a vast resource of knowledge and field experience.
“Classes at Benedictine are very diverse,” she said. “You get to sample a lot of different subjects with teachers who are very accessible and interested in helping you succeed. The professors are often active professionals in the fields on which they lecture, so they bring real-world experience that is often not present in institutions where faculty only work in academia.”
One of the most influential professors Davis encountered was Georgeen Polyak, Ph.D., assistant professor and Master of Public Health program director.
“I loved how Dr. Polyak brought her experience to the classroom,” Davis said. “It helped me learn about how to apply the skills we were learning to real-life problems. Teachers at Benedictine are very open to sharing their career paths and how they have accomplished their goals.
“Hearing the different routes to success help give you ideas on ways you can pursue your own,” Davis added.
Polyak, for her part, revels about Davis’ career achievements and is excited that she has chosen to stay connected to the University.
“Kristina is doing great things in public health,” Polyak said. “She was the first chairperson of the MPH Student Advisory Panel. She continues to send job, fellowship and internship opportunities for our students.
“She recently came back to participate in the MPH Student Advisory Panel presentation by alumni on ‘What you can do with your MPH degree,’” Polyak added.
Davis also credits a Benedictine professor for giving her a piece of advice which has helped fuel her career.
“The professor told me to get involved in professional organizations,” she said. “This has helped me to connect with people from all over the United States and world in my field. The connections help me to grow and to learn more about ongoing improvements in nutrition and public health.”