Graduate Programs

Blogs from students, faculty & staff

As a student in the Masters of Public Health program, the shifting of class format from in- person to completely online has revealed a number of obstacles, but also opportunities. When UM-Flint first made the announcement that classes would be going online, I think there was a lot of apprehension and uncertainty in how the change would take place. But, both the administration and faculty were very supportive and provided a smooth transition. Almost immediately, our classes were updated and we were notified of any changes. The faculty was very supportive in making sure these changes would still provide the students the opportunity to remain on track with their plan for completing the MPH program. I have been lucky in the sense that my personal and academic life have had minimal disruptions since I only had one on-campus class and my upcoming classes were all online. I think the biggest change I have experienced academically is the lack of face-to-face interaction with other students.

In addition to being enrolled in the MPH program, I also have a full-time job as a wellness coordinator for a senior independent living community in Flint. Since we are an independent living community and most activities have been suspended during this time, I have been working from home four out of five days a week. This has been a hard adjustment since most of my work requires me to interact with the residents. As a wellness coordinator, my primary focus is creating activities that engage the resident’s mind, body and spirit. However, since the pandemic has started, we have had to quickly come up with alternate ways to still provide this support that is feasible in a low income community. A setback that we are anticipating is that with reduced physical activity, residents are going to be seeing a decrease in muscle function. We have begun to work on a return to normalcy plan that addresses how this will impact the residents once the stay at home orders are lifted. Not only may it make activities more physically challenging to complete, but it also can lead to an increase in falls, which are the leading cause of fatal injuries for older adults. 

 The stay at home order has been especially hard for our seniors. Similar to the rest of the population, the stay at home order has brought reduced social activities and a higher sense of social isolation. However, it is compounded in our older adults who, in many cases, were already experiencing these emotions before the stay at home order was put in place. As a whole, people are experiencing an increased rate of social isolation, depression, and lack of motivation from decreased interaction during the stay at home orders. While this is important and should be taken seriously, I think that this experience can serve as a tool for us to all be more empathetic and aware of the level of social isolation that older adults experience on a regular basis. The change that younger adults are going through right now is not something that older adults needed a pandemic to experience. 

Although the pandemic has made significant changes to everyday life, I think our faculty has done a great job in responding to every challenge presented. Not only have they been supportive of our academic success and how that is being impacted, but they care about each student as a whole and care about how we are coping outside of the classroom as well. I am happy to be enrolled in a program that acknowledges my efforts outside of school but embraces them and provides me with the necessary tools to combine when I am learning in the classroom to real life examples that make a difference in my community.

Tabatha Dolan is an MPH student from Swartz Creek.