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Education & Social Science Graduates

Toni W. Thibeaux, MPH

What I do now:
At present, I serve as the Program Manager for the MPH Program at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

My work/job consists of:
I provide a number of services in my role as Program Manager for the MPH program at Cornell University. My primary responsibilities include: advising students and promoting the MPH program, facilitating student orientation, developing customized collaborative community projects for student learning, establishing partnerships with internal and external stakeholders to make sure our graduate students are assigned to a qualified host organization and site preceptor for the completion of the Practicum and CAPSTONE courses. I also assist with the writing of funding proposals, and I maintain the practicum database, which is a hub with pertinent data for the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) which is our accreditation agency.

Path to my current career position (how I got from the past to the present):
-Clinical Laboratory Scientist - LifeShare Blood Center- 1990-1992
-Clinical Laboratory Scientist - Highland Hospital - 1992-1996
-Clinical Laboratory Scientist - VA Medical Center - 1992-1994
-MLT and Phlebotomy Program Coordinator - Southern University-Shreveport - 1996-1997
-Clinical Laboratory Scientist - LSUHSC - 1996-2000
-Medical Careers Program Director - Caddo Parish Schools - 1997-2002
-LA Prep Allied Health Instructor - LSUS -1999-2002
-Upward Bound Program Instructor - Wiley College - 1997-2000 and 2011-2012
-Stem Cell Technologist - Arlington Cancer Center - 2003-2007
-Clinical Laboratory Scientist - VA Medical Center - 2007-2008
-Academic Coordinator - LSU Health Science Center Medical School - 2008-2014
-MPH Program Coordinator - Milken Institute School of Public Health - 2014-2017
-MPH Program Manager - Cornell University - Present Employer

How I got to LSUS (or why I chose LSUS):
The announcement of the graduate degree in public health was perfectly timed for me. I was looking to enroll in an online MPH program, but the LSUS program was a better fit and was more cost effective because I was able to take advantage of the employee tuition benefit.

Fond memories of LSUS:
I will always remember the small group discussions in Dr. Wissing's courses. His nutrition course was AWESOME! He was always able to promote student engagement in the classroom and his PowerPoint presentations on nutrition were hilarious. This format of teaching created fond memories of learning for me and my fellow classmates.

LSUS faculty who helped me:
I had a great team of faculty members who were very supportive while I was in graduate school. Each one played a significant role in molding and shaping me for great success stories just like this one. However, I would like to publicly acknowledge Dr. Rosevelt Jacobs and Dr. Mary Hawkins for ALWAYS reminding me of my full potential.

How LSUS helped me succeed:
LSUS played an active role in my professional development. The availability of academic advisement with the faculty, the participation in co-curricular activities that were implemented within the community for me to take part in, and peer-to peer projects all increased my knowledge of the domains of public health. The return on LSUS' level of interest in my personal development has been huge and is the contributing factor for why I am part of the Cornell University family today!

Advice to college-bound students:
Never underestimate the power of your potential to learn and to be successful. Utilize all resources that are made available to you regarding college readiness, career options, financial aid, scholarships and professional development courses. Be sure to identify and connect with a great mentor. Stay connected to God and find yourself a supportive church to attend on a weekly basis. Make sure the college you select is the right fit for the degree you wish to obtain.

Advice to someone who wants to enter my field:
Do it! There is an increasing need for public health practitioners, and regardless of your undergraduate field of study, it can serve as a great catalyst for a graduate degree in public health. Transformational leaders are being recruited at an all-time high because of their ability to motivate and encourage individuals to change. The field of public health mirrors this type of leadership because the main focus of this field of study is to encourage and motivate a population to change a behavior in order to achieve longevity of life and a better quality of life.

Tips on choosing a major or career:
When choosing a career you must consider the following:
1. How much extra time do you want to contribute to the job and the course work?
2. How much time will it require you to be away from your family and friends?
3. How will your contributions and sacrifices impact the growth of others?

My toughest professional challenge:
My toughest professional challenge has been adapting to the different office and work environments of universities on the East coast.

My toughest personal challenge:
I am a single mom with two beautiful daughters. In 2014, in an effort to advance my professional career, I accepted a position with George Washington University in Washington, DC. This was, without a doubt, my toughest personal challenge. My oldest daughter, Taylor, was accepted into college at the age of 16. She was in her third year at Xavier University in New Orleans when I decided to relocate. Being so far away from her at this stage of her learning was very difficult for me. Nevertheless, she made me proud and graduated within four years as we had planned.

Successes (honors, awards, etc.) in my life:
I have received a number of community and teaching awards.

I've learned this from life:
You will fail more than once. Expect it, accept it, and learn from it. That failure is part of the road map toward being successful.

What I'd be doing if I had all the time in the world:
If I had all the time in the world, I would travel to learn!