Finding Community in Your Grad Program


Jen_Fields_HeadshotPeople find their passion and purpose at different stages of life. For students like Jen Fields, those points intersect amid the art and science of the Health Promotion Management Program at American University.

Jen already had a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology when she arrived at AU, but it’s her postgraduate education that is giving her a renewed sensed of community and vision as she moves toward a career centered on improving health and well-being.

By the time she was finishing up her bachelor’s degree in 2013, Jen knew she was interested in exercise—she’s a part-time personal trainer—nutrition and research. However, she wasn’t aware she could combine all those passions in a hands-on master’s program such as the Health Promotion Management Program at American University.

“I didn’t even know I could get a degree in that,” she said, adding that the personal attention she received from an AU adviser while researching the program was very encouraging.

“I was just a number” as an undergraduate, Jen said. But it was different when she arrived at AU. One of her professors knew her by name from her first week on campus—before they’d even officially met.

Her classmates were just as easy to connect with, partly because many of them were taking the same classes together. From social events each semester to community service events to annual holiday gatherings, the health promotion management students are more supportive than competitive.

Jen and her peers feel comfortable enough with each other to routinely share job opportunities back and forth—the type of reciprocal respect that stems from each student having a unique set of talents, skills, passions, and goals.

One of the most advantageous aspects of the program is being able to infuse their own interests and career aspirations into the coursework, Jen said. Her de facto area of emphasis is sports nutrition, which she is exploring within a wide-ranging curriculum. As a health promotion management student, her coursework has included:

  • Getting a firsthand look at real-world health policy on Capitol Hill
  • Planning an end-to-end social marketing campaign
  • Developing infographics, other marketing tools, and more

After completing her master’s degree, Jen’s aspirations include earning a PhD and becoming a professor. She is excited to share the knowledge she’s gathered about how sports nutrition and exercise can improve our world.

“I just want to teach the information I love,” said Jen, who yearns to see vast improvements in the way the general public integrates important health information. With huge swaths of skewed opinions and purported facts available on the Internet, Jen envisions better public knowledge on topics such as how to affordably eat healthful foods.

“People will spend $5 at McDonald’s rather than go to the grocery store and buy produce,” she said. “It’s ultimately about educating people.”


Do you want to use your passion for health and well being to improve the world? Learn about a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University.


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