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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 maintain, coordinate, and facilitate MPH program processes and documentation for admissions, attrition, retention, orientation, and performance tracking. Diversity and Inclusion are at the top of the list for program targets and goals. I am responsible for suggestions and practical strategies on how to make sure our URM students meet the program expectations and performance goals. I am responsible the program's admission process, student handbooks, policies, and procedures regarding academic integrity, student development, and academic achievement. I facilitate both the fall orientation and open house events. I provide leadership to the program's co-curricular curriculum, and I serve as the liaison for the student disability office and the MPH faculty to address students with special needs and learning accommodations. As a core faculty member, I coordinate a series of "Public Health Special Topics" which focus on diversity, cultural competence, student leadership, community engagement, and public health research. I am also the instructional lead for Applied Practice and Experiential Learning. A secondary responsibility is building community partners to advance student learning in the Dominican Republic.

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 Medial Center- 2007-2008
Academic Coordinator- LSUHSC 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 the graduate degree in public health was perfect timing 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 a great success story just like this one. However, I would like to publicly acknowledge Dr. Roosevelt 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. 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:
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. The 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!

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