First-Year Trainee Reflections: The 2020 Experience

First-year photo

As first-year students in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at UIC School of Public Health, we have created this post to reflect on our first year and to give advice to prospective students. There are several reasons why we personally decided to attend UIC for the MPH/PhD programs in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology (MCHEPI). Many of us had prior ties to the Chicago community and appreciated the professional connections of the UIC School of Public Health and the reputation of the Center of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health. We also appreciated the programs’ emphasis on community engagement, social justice, and health equity.

Because we are all first-year students, our only experience as UIC public health students has been remote and virtual. Here are some reflections on how our first-year has been!


“Although it was strange to start a school year from my living room, it was a good way to transition from working from home to school. Being online has also really helped with my ability to commit to multiple organizations and relieving the barrier of time/transportation to get to things and being present. Though I have to admit…zoom fatigue is very real so I really look forward to in-person courses next year.”

“I have been enjoying being able to learn safely through the virtual platforms. I have enjoyed doing community health assessments in my courses. It is so nice to know that I am already learning applicable skills so early in the program.”

“Virtual learning has gone surprisingly well- a lot of our professors have really adapted well and made online learning engaging. I loved my MCH community health class as well as the SAS class!”

“This year has been a whirlwind! I’ve learned so much about the key frameworks, theories, and methods which guide public health work. Virtual learning is new for me, but I’ve enjoyed the flexibility of being able to participate in some of my classes asynchronously.”

“I would encourage potential applicants to integrate their research interests into the MCH framework, which itself is pretty broad. I think that people should also expect to learn as much/more from their classmates as their instructors.”

“Don’t be shy about reaching out to faculty once you start your program! Early in the semester, I emailed a faculty member who is doing work that I’m really interested in, and she invited me to get involved.”

“Before you make the leap, think about what your career goals are and see if this degree will get you there. Talk to people in your network, find people with the job you are interested in and see what they did to get there!”


If you have questions about the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health, please reach out to Gabriella Masini at