Publish Your Work: Insights from Arielle Bernstein

Publish Your Work: Insights from Arielle Bernstein


Arielle Bernstein graduated from the AU MFA in Creative Writing in 2009 with a mixed-genre thesis, and she has now joined us as a professorial lecturer.

Arielle’s career – with wide publication in both fiction and nonfiction – offers an example of where AU’s cross-genre focus can lead. Her cultural criticism, personal narrative and reviews can be found on The Atlantic, Salon, The Rumpus, and The Millions. Her short fiction has found homes on the pages of journals like PANK 10, Literary OrphansThe Puritan, The Rattling Wall Issue 4, and Connotation Press. Now, she’s working on a book.

With her varied experience and some heavy-hitting publications under her belt, we thought Arielle might have some advice to share with other writers – and we were right. Below, learn about Arielle’s experiences and get a peek into the nonfiction publishing process.


On Cultural Criticism…

“One of the things I love most about writing essays is the sense that the work I’m doing is actively participating in ongoing conversations about art, culture and politics,” Arielle said.

Writing as a cultural critic means plugging into the zeitgeist – reading widely, keeping up with events and discussions, and honing a perspective that offers something fresh. The pace feels fast, and the work requires stepping into a current that is already flowing.

When Arielle wrote Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter for The Atlantic this past spring, she received messages from readers across the globe – some of whom shared her particular experiences, and others who had different relationships with Marie Kondo’s ideas about minimalism. “As a writer, my goal is to not simply tell my own story, but to use my personal experiences and ideas as a way to talk about current cultural issues,” she said.

“For me, fiction is a much more private experience,” she said. “I’ll work on a story for months and months, and I won’t send it out until I think it’s absolutely perfect.”

As her publishing record suggests, Arielle is comfortable working on multiple projects at once. While she drafts her book, she has shorter pieces underway as well. “I find myself most motivated when I’m engaged in a number of different projects—from solo work to collaboration with artists, writers, and filmmakers,” she said.


On Logistics of Non-fiction Versus Fiction…

While fiction writers need completed stories or books before seeking publication, a brief pitch – often a proposed headline and two or three short paragraphs – serves a first introduction between a freelance nonfiction writer and a potential editor. Some outlets list an email address to which writers should send their pitches, while others list contact info for specific section editors.

Arielle always pitches ideas before drafting articles. “Different magazines have different audiences, and I am conscious of developing my work with that audience in mind,” she said. “I think meeting and talking with other writers is really important, especially when you first start out. Often, people are working on interesting projects and actively seeking talent. As you continue in your writing career, cold-pitching becomes more comfortable, since you can link to previous work and accomplishments. I tend to pitch places where I really love and value the work, and where I can see my writing (both in terms of content and style) fitting in.”

The timelines also differ vastly between fiction publications and cultural criticism. When fiction writers send their stories out for possible publication, they usually wait months to hear whether a journal thinks a piece is a good fit. Because the turnaround time is so long, most literary outlets accept simultaneous submissions: a fiction writer might send her story to ten or more outlets at once, and wait for the responses to trickle back into her inbox.

Pitching cultural criticism is more time sensitive, and editors typically respond within a day or week’s time. Pitching multiple editors with the same idea – without waiting for a response – is considered a faux-paus. Once a pitch is accepted, the process between writer and editor can also feel more collaborative.

“Different editors have different styles. Some will be very hands-off, while others will be very hands-on, wanting to see multiple drafts and making a lot of sentence-level edits,” Arielle said. “In general, it’s very normal to receive editorial feedback and for there to be a lot of dialogue between writer and editor. I find this discussion to actually be very fruitful for my own work—it helps me to develop ideas more fully and also see how different audiences might respond or react to my ideas in different ways.


On the Publication Process…

“The process of writing a proposal is actually incredibly helpful in terms of helping a writer articulate her ideas more fully, as well as think more critically about the business side of things—who the target audience is, for example, and how will you as a writer go about marketing and promoting your work,” Arielle said. “Once you have a solid proposal, you can start sending query letters to agents, which is how I found representation.”

Arielle has recently turned her attention to a longer project: a book-length work of nonfiction. She has devoted some time over the summer to writing a book proposal. While writers of novels and memoirs need to submit full-length manuscripts when seeking representation, writers of other nonfiction need to first grab the attention of a publishing house with a well-written explanation of what the book is about and why it needs to be in the world.


On Advice for Aspiring Non-fiction Writers…

“My biggest advice is to be persistent about topics and ideas that are important to you,” Arielle says.

“If an idea doesn’t work for one venue, it might be a better fit elsewhere. Use the feedback you receive from positive rejections as a way to tailor your work. It really helps to think about framing your ideas in terms of the conversation you are responding to, and how you think your ideas add to that.”

Arielle learned how to navigate the publishing world, in part, through a role as Saturday editor at The Rumpus. “Being on the other side of the desk gave me insights regarding how to make an initial pitch, how to take a positive rejection, and why an editor might want to make certain kinds of edits on a piece,” she said.

“My other big piece of advice is to keep submitting—if an editor seems excited about working with you, but not totally sold on an idea, that means you should read more work that is featured on the site and see if you can come up with an idea that is a better fit. Even when you’ve worked with an editor for a long time, they will occasionally pass on an idea, or ask you to reframe an article in a new direction. The best editors are actively seeking excellent work and will push you to fully develop your ideas. Keep going!”

Keep up with Arielle’s work by following her on Twitter.


Interested in pursuing your own writing career? Learn more about the MFA in creative writing.


Public Health vs. Health Promotion Management

Advancements in science, technology and healthcare have made at least one thing crystal clear, it will take everyone’s best efforts to improve health in communities all over the world.

This far-flung realization has led to a wealth of career opportunities for people who are passionate about health. There are many exciting professional paths that center on the singular goal of better health, opening up a broad variety of options.

Understanding the nuances of public health vs. health promotion management helps prospective practitioners expedite and enhance their professional journey.


Defining Public Health vs. Health Promotion Management

Public Health

From the ever-increasing life expectancy to childhood obesity, global pandemics and even the environment, public health is a concept that touches everyone. It’s a hotbed issue that’s deeply ingrained at the political, organizational and personal level.

“Public health systems are commonly defined as ‘all public, private, and voluntary entities that contribute to the delivery of essential public health services within a jurisdiction, ” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes:

  • Public health agencies at state and local levels
  • Healthcare providers
  • Public safety agencies
  • Human service and charity organizations
  • Education and youth development organizations
  • Recreation and arts-related organizations
  • Economic and philanthropic organizations
  • Environmental agencies and organizations


Health Promotion Management

Health promotion is the science and art of helping people, organizations, and communities change lifestyle behaviors to move toward a state of improved health, resulting in decreases in chronic disease and health care costs.

University-level health promotion management programs focus on the development of managerial skills with knowledge in subjects such as exercise physiology, human biochemistry, behavioral psychology and nutrition. Students can pursue an emphasis in areas including:

  • Corporate health
  • Health communication
  • Health policy
  • Global health
  • Nutrition education


Discovering the Right Career For You

Public Health Career Opportunities

Virtually anyone within the broad spectrum of the health field could reap benefits from a public health degree program.

While a public health degree certainly can prove useful in private sector positions, it’s particularly applicable in the nonprofit, government and medical sectors.

Health Promotion Management Job Opportunities

For students who foresee a career spent leading and educating people and groups to make better, fact-based decisions to improve their quality of life, a health promotion management (HPM) program often is the best choice. At American University in Washington, D.C., HPM alumni are impacting communities locally, nationally and globally at organizations such as:

  • Wellness Corporate Solutions
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Pan American Health Organization
  • Partnership to Promote Healthy Eating and Active Living
  • Mindfulness Center National
  • WIC Association
  • American Heart Association
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • US Department of Health and Human Services


Emphasis on Care vs. Innovation in Education

Addressing Public Danger

The CDC Foundation calls the CDC, “our nation’s premier public health agency.” Most public health degree programs prepare students for careers that are in step with the CDC’s mission: “CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.”

In other words, earning a degree in public health is an important step toward protecting people from a wide variety of health concerns.

Innovative Engagement Through Health Promotion Management

When American University started the first U.S. degree program combining the concepts of health and wellness with the principles of business and management, it put a new spin on public health. HPM students learn about everything from individual decision-making and corporate America to government policy in an effort to promote healthy behaviors and improve quality of life.

Whether serving in a Fortune 500 company’s health and wellness department or as a leading decision-maker at a think-tank, an HPM graduate has the tools to improve health and well-being from the ground up.


If you are interested in the multi-sector impact of a degree in Health Promotion Management, learn more about American University’s Master’s in HPM Program.


Poetry books

How Do Poets Make a Living?

As Robert Graves put it, “There is no money in poetry, but there is no poetry in money, either.”

Poets don’t pursue poetry for the cash, but the truth is that we all have to make rent and buy groceries.

While it’s rare for a writer in any genre to make a living solely off the sale of their work, financial rewards for excellent poetry are especially hard to come by. At AU, we find ourselves encountering early-career poets eager to hone their craft but nervous about their financial prospects. We hear the same question again and again. How does a poet make a living?

Our goal is to send writers out into the world with talents sharpened and professional opportunities opened. We want our poets to have tools to support themselves so they can sustain artistic lives. Below are some of the ways that our poets go on to support themselves financially as they pursue their art:


Poets write in multiple genres.

Some of the most beautiful prose is penned by poets, with their sensitivity to sound and rhythm. Poets frequently write in multiple genres – and the cash advance that a writer gets when she sells her memoir can sometimes stretch further than the sales of a poetry collection. By writing journalism or creative nonfiction or fiction, poets can diversify their publications in a way that becomes financially sustaining.

AU poetry alumna Sandra Beasley has published three collections of poetry and placed her poems in top journals, and she published a work of nonfiction, a cultural history of food allergies, as well.

When we interviewed Sandra in January, she discussed her experiences at AU taking a class in journalism and a class in translation. “These classes broadened my sense of a literary community, and of what I could do with the degree,” Sandra said. “I can thank Richard McCann for introducing me to the craft of creative nonfiction. Not every program allows students to cross genres so freely. He said you have to find the nerve, the place where it hurts—and then press on it. That advice has stayed with me.”

Our new studio track makes time in students’ schedules for extra creative writing classes, enabling them to receive additional instruction and feedback in their chosen genres.


Poets work a range of professional jobs where their talents are valued.

The MFA is seen as valuable by employers seeking strong communicators. We have written before about non-teaching career paths that our writers pursue.

One alumnus, poet Jay Melder, has lent his skills to the political world, where he currently serves as Chief of Staff at the DC Department of Human Resources. Other alumni have found work as editors, radio producers, coordinators for arts and lectures series, public relations officials and writers in communications and marketing roles.

Our new professional track gives students the chance to take classes that expand their career options by providing supplemental skills and exposure to new work options. The bottom line? An MFA in poetry shows potential employers that you are a serious and accomplished writer—a valuable asset in today’s workforce.


Poets teach creative writing.

Teaching writing is a time-honored tradition among poets. W.H. Auden taught. Elizabeth Bishop taught. Langston Hughes taught. And many of our own graduates teach their craft to other new writers.

A 2009 graduate Jenny Molberg writes poetry, serves as poetry editor for Pleiades, and works as assistant professor of English at the University of Central Missouri.

When we interviewed Jenny in March, she described how she balances her teaching and writing life. “It’s difficult, especially because I am in my first year of a tenure-track job, but I find that I am constantly challenged and inspired by my students, who make me want to go home to write,” Jenny said. “Sending work out and applying for grants and residencies becomes difficult with a very busy teaching load—sometimes I just dedicate a Saturday to reading, writing, and sending out poems.”

Our new teaching track allows students to earn credit toward their MFA while taking classes that will prepare them to teach.


Ready to pursue poetry in the District? Learn more about the MFA in creative writing program.


Healthy Schools Act in DC Gives Grad Students Hands-On Training

In some communities, 100 percent of a grad student’s research is done online. But in a metro area—especially Washington, DC—much of that research can be gathered, observed, and analyzed in the field, where firsthand experience with the “real world” can teach us valuable lessons.

For five years, students in American University’s MS in health promotion management program have helped measure fruit and vegetable consumption for the local Healthy Schools Act, a 2010 directive requiring the availability of healthier foods in DC school cafeterias.

The program also features courses that empower students to visit Capitol Hill and chat with congressional leaders about vital health issues. “Health policy is so important and totally interesting, and it’s happening right here,” said Hannah Hutton, a master’s student in the program.

Watch the video to learn more about how hands-on work in the field of health promotion management is helping master’s students create generational change.

To learn more about what students and professionals are saying about the MS in health promotion management program at American University, click here.


5 Accomplished Writers You’ll Connect with at AU

We are proud of our accomplished creative writing faculty, whose achievements include acclaimed publications, national awards and reputations for excellence. There has been a lot of great work published in recent months and years.

If you are applying to, or just considering, our MFA in Creative Writing, we encourage you to check out the work of our teachers and to familiarize yourself with their styles and interests. You’ll get a sense for how they might support your own development, and you’ll gain a well-rounded understanding of how you’d fit into our program—which we hope you’ll detail in your statement of purpose.

Below we’ve gathered just a small sample of recent faculty work, available online for free. Enjoy.


Kyle Dargan, Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing

Kyle Dargan has published four four collections of poetry with University of Georgia Press, most recently Honest Engine (2015) and Logorrhea Dementia (2010). His first collection, The Listening (2004), was the winner of the 2003 Cave Canem Prize, and his second collection, Bouquet of Hungers (2007), was awarded the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in poetry. Public Pool recently published a video by Kyle, featuring DC landscapes and Kyle’s reading of his poem on gentrification, “White. Bread. Blues.” From “White. Bread. Blues.”:

“The Islander on U Street will be shuttered says the metro section of the Washington Post. I had my first and last plate of their curry bird after Heroes Are Gang Leaders hit at Howard.”


WASHINGTON, DC-NOVEMBER 6:DC Fiction writer Kyle G. Dargan likes to spend time in the atrium of the National Portrait Gallery to reflect, read and meet up with friends.(Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post)

WASHINGTON, DC-NOVEMBER 6:DC Fiction writer Kyle G. Dargan likes to spend time in the atrium of the National Portrait Gallery to reflect, read and meet up with friends.(Photo by Lucian Perkins /for The Washington Post)


Stephanie Grant, Assistant Professor

Stephanie Grant has penned two novels, The Passion of Alice (Houghton Mifflin, 1995) and Map of Ireland (Scribner, 2008), and has won a number of fellowships and awards. Her essay “Postpartum” explores the experience of reconsidering one’s parents through an adult lens. The essay was published in the New Yorker in December, 2015. From “Postpartum”:

“After my older brother Bill was born, my mother had a devastating postpartum depression: she cried all day, refused to dress, could not take care of the baby. The grandmothers were brought in, and she was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts, for electroconvulsive therapy.”


David Keplinger, Professor

David Keplinger is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Most Natural Thing (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2013) and The Prayers of Others (New Issues, 2006). His first collection, The Rose Inside (Truman State University Press, 1999), was chosen by the poet Mary Oliver for the 1999 T.S. Eliot Prize. David has also published translations and won a number of prizes for his work. His poem “Wave” was featured as Blog this Rock’s Poem of the Week in 2013. From “Wave”:

“Lincoln, leaving Springfield, 1861, Boards a train with a salute: but it is weak. To correct it, he slides his hand away From his face as if waving, as if brushing The snows of childhood from his eyes.”


Richard McCann, Professor

Richard McCann is the author of the acclaimed linked story collection Mother of Sorrows (Vintage, 2006), and the award-winning poetry collection Ghost Letters. He is also the editor (with Michael Klein) of Things Shaped in Passing: More ‘Poets for Life’ Writing from the Aids Pandemic (Persea Books,1996) and his work has appeared in several esteemed publications. In March 2016, the Washington Post published his essay, “How Bette Davis became a boy’s unlikely pen pal — and, for a time, gave him strength.” From the essay:

“One afternoon, maybe a month after mailing my letter, I came home from school to find in the mailbox a manila envelope, with my name and address written in large letters across the front. I recognized the handwriting at once — the blocky cursive; the oversized letters, drawn with what looked to be a hard and definitive hand; the penchant for fat dots suspended above the i’s and dramatic underscorings.”


Rachel Louise Snyder, Associate Professor

Rachel Louise Snyder is the author of two books: the nonfiction Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade (WW Norton, 2007) and the novel We’ve Lost is Nothing (Scribner, 2014). She has contributed journalism and commentary to public radio, print and online outlets including This American Life and the New Yorker. In July 2015, the New York Times published her essay “Life, an Unspooling,” on family and parenthood. From “Life: An Unspooling:”

“A marriage proposal for a woman at 38 is rarely really a marriage proposal. Or, rather, it’s not a choice of two people; it’s a choice of child or no child. It’s a last chance. I got engaged on the Mekong River, sitting in the front of a kayak, while my boyfriend attempted to get on one knee behind me.”



Would you like to study with these writers? Start your application or learn more about the MFA in creative writing.


Q&A with Game Design Student Rae Heitkamp

Rae Heitkamp, American University Game Design MA alumnaRae Heitkamp is one of American University’s innovative Game Design students. In our interview, she shares what drew her to the program and imparts her wisdom to future applicants. Her student perspective provides a crucial window into the burgeoning field of Game Design.


Your background is in biomedical research. What prompted the switch to Game Design?

One of the realities of research is that it costs quite a lot of money, especially biomedical research, and there isn’t much funding to go around right now. It’s an extremely competitive field with relatively low financial return on time invested, and it seems that scientists spend a lot of time hunting down funding when they would rather be in the lab.

I was thinking of applying for a doctoral graduate program in biology or something similar, but I decided that I needed to find an opportunity with more autonomy and independence. I wanted to be able to get from an idea to an outcome on my own, and I wanted to do it faster than I can in research.

One day in June, I opened my email and I had a message from American University inviting me to apply to their brand-new Master’s program in game design, beginning in Fall of the same year. When I got that message, everything clicked. I applied right away and was accepted. The rest is history.

Has the program met your expectations?

I hoped that I would learn how to design video games, which I definitely did.

What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of time this program devotes to the philosophy of games and play. To make a good game, you have to know how to communicate with the player through the medium of the game. There need to be clues for the player about how the game works, but you can’t give everything away up front. Part of the fun in playing games is figuring out what you’re playing with. The other fun part is getting good at it. The time I spent in this program reflecting on games, video games, interaction and play–in the cmpany of so many bright minds–is something I value a lot.

How has your internship experience helped contribute to your education?

I’m doing an internship right now with a small studio, Molecular Jig. It’s run by Melanie Stegman, who has a doctorate degree in biochemistry. The studio is developing a game called Immune Defense. In the game, you use the cells and proteins of the immune system to capture and kill bacteria and other harmful invaders. Working with Molecular Jig has been a really important experience. I get to see how a small studio is run and how the design process is managed. Their style is very different from mine and it’s been a good test for me to learn how to work with other people on a shared goal. I’m working on level design for that game, but I’m also doing some coding as well. Melanie is a great mentor and I’m really grateful I got the opportunity to work on this game with her and her team.

What classes have stood out for you?

I think Games and Society was the most challenging class for me, but the focus of the class is fascinating. It’s a good first class because it puts what you’ll be doing for the rest of the program into context: Games are intimately woven into human history and culture. Play is an important part of being human.

Two other classes, 3D Modeling with Chris Totten and Game Design with Mike Treanor, were both taught in the same semester and they were both really challenging. In one class, we were learning how to use this complex software to create 3D models. There were all these hotkeys and shortcuts to remember, never mind the challenge of learning how to think about creating an object from nothing in three dimensions. In the other class we were learning another complicated program, Unity, for building 3D games. There were a lot of students taking both classes at the same time, so we all kind of agreed that it would be really cool and make sense for the two classes to have a single final project. That way, we could have our 3D models embedded in a working game–a game with actual polished 3D art. I think a lot of professors would have insisted on separate projects for their own classes, but Chris and Mike really put the best interests of the students first. The results were all-around really impressive.

What has been your experience with schools at AU outside of the Game Design program?

I took two classes outside of the game design program, both also in the School of Communication. Actually, both classes were in strategic communication–one an intro class and the other about advertising. For the advertising class, my final project was a card game called “Pitch It!” and a team of students in the class helped me prepare a strategic advertising campaign for the game. I’m having a prototype of the game produced this summer, with the support of an SOC faculty member. I can’t speak highly enough of the school and the people.

What would you want prospective students to know as they consider applying to the AU Game Design Program?

I would encourage anyone who is interested in this program to check it out. It’s an extraordinarily diverse group of students, with all kinds of academic interests and skills coming in. Don’t be daunted at the thought of programming, you’ll learn.

Health promotion at American University

Master’s Students Unify Around Art, Science, and Passion to Promote Health

No university program should use long history and rich tradition as an excuse to settle for the status quo. American University has the oldest master’s in health promotion management program in the U.S. — but also some of the most advantageous, hands-on education activities anywhere.

Some students have been able to dive into data collection for Washington DC’s Healthy Schools Act, many have found exceptional internships, and other take advantage of nearby access to U.S. congressional leaders.

Opportunities such as these draw students from various undergraduate backgrounds — ranging from public health and exercise science to English and history. Together, their tactics and professionals aspirations may differ, but they’re unified around an important goal: for people throughout the world to experience healthier lives through better decisions and instrumental policies.

“We need to go further upstream to help people prevent these kinds of chronic conditions that we see in today’s society,” said Anastasia Snelling, chair of AU’s Department of Health Studies.

Watch the video to hear students talk about the unique benefits of seeking a master’s degree in health promotion management in Washington DC.

To learn more about what students and professionals are saying about the MS in health promotion management program at American University, click here.

Woman Notebook Working Girl

Master’s Class Focuses on Connections Between Health Equity and Social Justice

It was during her graduate studies at American University that Jessica Young discovered the depth of her interest in the different ways that populations experience health.

“I knew that I wanted to use my career to improve the public’s health and that working with policy would be a way to impact the health of thousands to millions of people at a time,” she said.

It’s quite fitting to welcome Young back to AU as she strives to help others unlock their own unique passions and goals for making lasting improvements in health and well-being. With a master’s degree in health promotion management from AU, Young will lead the HPRM 480/680 class, Health Policy and Behavior Change, this fall.

She has a few key goals for this course, including to help students understand:

  • How policy can be leveraged to achieve population health behavior changes
  • The roles politics and advocacy play in health policymaking
  • How to navigate the policymaking process at the local, state and federal levels

The underlying goal in any class setting is to instill intellectual habits that help students become lifelong learners.

Good Questions Lead to Great Careers

“My experiences have been shaped by the power of inquiry,” said Young, who noted that her class lessons will be centered on a few essential questions to spark in-depth conversations.

Curiosity has been a key component of her lifelong passion for health. Even as a young soccer player, Young committed herself to researching and learning as much as she could about nutrition and strength training. Her journey of health discovery continued as she became a personal trainer and went through AU’s health promotion management MS program.

Like many students, it was during her graduate studies that Young’s interests evolved into what was poised to become her life’s work: health equity.

“At AU, I learned about the incredible role social policies such as housing, education, transportation, food, and employment policies play in shaping health — also known as the social determinants of health,” Young said.

Health Equity vs. Health Access

Ideal health equity would be if everyone had the opportunity to attain their highest level of health, according to the American Public Health Association. Much of Young’s work has centered on the impact of social policies on health equity, which she says continues to lag as many Americans languish without quality care.

Young’s background in the research of social justice’s relationship to health equity will provide unique context in the course she will teach at AU. Multi-layered subjects, such as the effects of racial and ethnic segregation on health and well-being, undoubtedly will arise as part of the curriculum.

“Segregation was a way of isolating people of color from opportunities that shape health, such as social services and quality education, housing, and jobs,” Young said. “We continue to see the health impacts of segregation today through disparities in infant mortality rates, life expectancy rates, and mortality, just to name a few.”

‘Embedding Equity’ Throughout Systems

After nearly completing her master’s degree and a PhD from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as two years of work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Young looks forward to bringing her unique set of skills, ideas, and real-world examples to the table as the instructor for Health Policy and Behavior Change. One of the most important things she will focus on is the Race, Equity, and Inclusion (REI) frame.

“The REI frame helps organizations understand how to embed equity throughout their approach to systemic change,” Young said. Components of REI include:

  • Identifying the root causes of racial and ethnic inequities
  • Creating a shared language around equity
  • Tracking and assessing performance and progress toward equity

The REI frame is shaping everything from Young’s research agenda at AU to how she will prepare students to embed equity in their work now and for decades to come.


If you are passionate about creating lasting change in health polices and behaviors, learn more about American University’s Health Promotion Management Program.

Coffee Cup

An Interview with Valzhyna Mort, Poet & AU Graduate

When poet Valzhyna Mort arrived at AU as a student, she already had several accomplishments behind her. She had published a collection of poetry, Factory of Tears, in the United States and in Belarus, and been the youngest person ever featured on the cover of Poets & Writers magazine.

Valzhyna has since published another collection, Collected Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), and edited two poetry anthologies, Something Indecent: Poems Recommended by Eastern European Poets (Red Hen Press, 2013), and Gossip and Metaphysics: Prose and Poetry of Russian Modernist Poets, with Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris (Tupelo Press, 2014). She has received the Lannan Foundation Fellowship, the Bess Hokins Prize from Poetry, and the Burda Poetry Prize in Germany.

During her time in the AU MFA Program, Valzhyna immersed herself in cross-genre workshops and focused deeply on her craft—much as the program’s new studio track will invite students to do.

Now a visiting assistant professor at Cornell University, Valzhyna is an Amy Clamitt Foundation fellow in Lenox, MA. We reached out to her to learn about how her time at AU fed her work and to discuss how she has spent her time since.

I know that you came into the AU MFA program with several accomplishments already—Professor David Keplinger once described you as having come here “fully formed.” What led to your choice to pursue an MFA?

Valzhyna MortIt’s true that when I applied to the AU MFA I already had my first book published in the States and at home, in Belarus. I was mostly confused about what MFA programs entailed. I was convinced that I had to be a published poet in order to be accepted into one. But don’t be fooled by this “fully formed” statement because even now, and perhaps especially now, after years of writing and reading, I have no idea how one writes a poem.

Let me say this, though. I think one does have to come to an MFA program formed, by that I don’t mean that one should have a manuscript ready or a book published, not in the least. But one does have to have a sense of herself as a writer, a vision of one’s voice, even if in a dream. Otherwise, it could be very distracting to hear 10 other writers say to you in a workshop: “you can do this and that in your text.” There are so many things a poem can do, so many directions it can take, and it’s important to keep your own vision in mind. Paradoxically, people who might be told that they have their writing figured out and are “fully formed” would benefit from going through an MFA most.

What was your primary focus during your time at AU?

An MFA program is a time to learn writer’s discipline. Talent is important but it’s nothing without hard work, without daily discipline of reading, of being attentive. Poetry is a religion. You have to practice it—you have to worship. An MFA teaches you this discipline, gives you tools to establish it against the routines of your daily life. In a way, an MFA is a way to delay your daily life, to create a bubble of timelessness within the mercilessly fast time, to say “pause now, let me hear my voice before you sweep me away.” People talk of it as a privilege—to have these few years of focusing on nothing but writing—but I don’t think it’s a privilege, it’s a right of every artist.

Another thing about poetry is that it’s historic—you are always writing after somebody: after Dante, after Rilke. You have to know these poets you are writing after! My favorite thing about the AU MFA is the never-flinching focus on reading. You come here for your own work, but you stay for Elizabeth Bishop, for Gwendolyn Brooks, for C.D. Wright.

What types of classes did you take while you were in the MFA program, and did any make a particular impact?

I took all the workshops—poetry, fiction, non-fiction, translation, journalism. Poetry and translation—with David Keplinger. He is, apart from being the most beautiful poet himself, a very insightful, generous mentor. I still marvel remembering how precisely he got what I was trying to write. All his comments on my work—as if from my future-self that knows better. Non-fiction workshop with Richard McCann was very impactful. He has that best skill of best mentors: to effortlessly mix wisdom with humor.

Every literature class I took at AU, with MA students and as my two independent studies, changed my life, nothing short of it. There are so many gaps in my literary education, such large empty gaps that are like tumors that would silently eat at your writing if you don’t eradicate them. I feel very strongly that without literature classes an MFA is a waste. You have to learn to be a reader as much as a writer.

How has your writing life looked since you finished your MFA? Do you find it challenging to balance your writing with other work, such as your teaching?

I’m writing these responses from Amy Clampitt’s house in the Berkshires. It’s a writing residency I’m holding for half a year—no teaching, no obligations, just poetry. So the challenge of balance has been figured out, at least for half a year. On the other hand, I do love teaching poetry. I can get quite overwhelmed with my love for a certain poem in class, in front of the students. They become the captive audience to my literary passions, so how can I not feel grateful? In return, I make sure that a workshop remains a space where we allow ourselves bad writing days, a space where, even though we are each other’s captive audience, nobody feels pressured to write poems to please anybody present.

What advice do you have for current or prospective MFA students?

Always read crazy dead poets. They will steer you away from writing that special brand of “MFA poems.” Don’t allow any normalcy, any comfort, to settle in your workshops.


If you’re interesting in studying in a variety of genres, and in focusing intensively on your craft, learn more about the new studio track in our MFA in Creative Writing program.

Director Kyle Dargan

A Look Inside the District’s Only Creative Writing MFA

The multi-genre focus. The vibrant location. The engaged community of writers with diverse backgrounds and rigorous insights.

For more than 30 years, the District’s only creative writing MFA program has fostered the talents and ambitions of writers who have gone on to make their mark in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction—and to make their mark on their communities.

In the video below, Director Kyle Dargan reads from his own work and offers his take on what sets our program apart.

Interested in joining our community? Start your application or learn more about the MFA in Creative Writing.


Health facilities

AhealthyU: How Health and Wellness Programs Make a Positive Impact on Campus

AhealthyU, American University’s faculty and staff wellness program, is celebrating its 10th year. While its scope and goals have grown, the program’s inception was driven by both necessity and a deep desire to see its team flourish.

“We discovered that many of our faculty and staff were being treated for health conditions that could lead to heart disease and other serious illnesses,” said Andie Rowe, director of employee wellness and work-life at AU.

The university implemented AhealthyU to improve employee medical conditions and better manage ballooning healthcare costs. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is consistent with the trend toward proactive health that is gaining ground in offices, campuses, and schools throughout the world.

For organizations, the effects include happier, healthier, more productive faculty and staff and reduced healthcare expenditures. For individuals, it simply means a better life.

“Programs like AhealthyU are important because they provide opportunities for faculty and staff to engage in healthy activities, learn about important health issues, and understand that their employer is interested in their overall well-being,” Rowe said.

What makes a good wellness program?

Much of AhealthyU’s success—about 500 people are participating—revolves around convenience. By offering many types of activities appealing to a wide variety of interests at convenient times and locations, AU makes it simple to get plugged in. The most popular opportunities include:

  • Fitness classes (on and off site)
  • Brown bag wellness workshops
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Pedometer and weight challenges.

What makes the program such a success?

As is the case in most successful wellness programs, buy-in for AhealthyU is consistent throughout the organization, said Leah Tasman, wellness program manager at AU. Leaders from HR, administration, and a wellness council composed of faculty and staff provide support and feedback, which helps drive future decisions about AhealthyU.

Incentives are a driving factor, too. Motivators for AhealthyU activities include:

  • A $50 incentive for participating in a health assessment survey
  • A monetary reward for winning a team challenge
  • Cool fitness-related items such as wicking T-shirts or yoga mats, earned by achieving predetermined goals.

Do students have a role?

For students working toward an MS in Health Promotion Management (HPM), AhealthyU is a valuable asset. The program employs a part-time graduate assistant and draws support from many other HPM students through class projects. In fact, Tasman herself served as a graduate assistant with AhealthyU while earning her own HPM master’s degree.

“It’s important to get HPM students involved because it exposes them to real-world worksite health promotion and helps to re-enforce what they’re learning in class,” she said.


To learn more about AhealthyU and the MS in Health Promotion Management at American University, visit the program webpage or follow along in Facebook.


Q&A with Game Design Student Kelli Dunlap

As a Game Design student and a JoLT fellow, Kelli Dunlap embodies the program’s commitment to socially conscious gaming. We spoke with her about what brought her to AU, her expertise in video game psychology and how joining the Game Lab has prepared her for the future.

Why get a Game Design degree and why choose AU?

It was actually a bit of a serendipitous accident. I graduated from my doctoral program in August 2014 and was looking for a job when I found myself at game-related event hosted by the Red Cross. Lindsay Grace was a speaker there and I had the opportunity to speak with him after the event. He told me about a new program at AU, the Journalism and Leadership Transformation (JoLT) initiative, and that they were looking for people interested in game design, journalism and changing the world. Although I didn’t have the journalism chops, he encouraged me to apply. I did, and received confirmation over Thanksgiving that I’d been selected as a JoLT Fellow. This meant I would enroll as an MA student in Game Design as well as work on projects related to social impact games and the realm of journalism. That’s how I came back to AU!

Would you consider yourself a gamer?

I’ve played video games for as long as I can remember. Gaming was something I did with my brother at home, with friends from school and was a big part of my undergraduate experience at AU. I actually met my current husband playing Halo during undergrad. I was a psychology major and in the Honors program, so when I had to propose an Honors Capstone project, I wanted to do something in the world of psychology and games. That project really fueled my interest in video game psychology as a whole.

Is it necessary to have a special focus before entering the program?

Not at all. I think the program is a good fit for students who have a genuine, broad curiosity about games. Some of my classes involve coding, some involve drawing and art skills and some are research-based. It’s a program for developing a solid foundation in the world of games with flexible personal and academic exploration.

What’s the most valuable skill you’ve learned within the program?

The ability to talk about games and play in a way which addresses common misconceptions about their frivolity or “childishness” has been supremely beneficial. When working with organizations or individuals beyond the Game Lab, I’ve definitely found myself having to address misconceptions about what games are and what play is, and confront negative stereotypes regarding both. This program provides the vernacular to discuss games and play in ways which can be understood outside of the game space.

What class experience outside of the Game Design curriculum stands out?

This past semester I took a Kogod business course with Professor Bradley. Learning to run and market a business was something I felt was important to my future success in the field of games and psychology. Even though it was not a traditional class for a game design student, I was able to seek out a course specific to my training needs.

Have you visited any Game Design Conferences?

Thanks to the Game Lab, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco last semester. Along with the two other JoLT Fellows and Lindsay, we spoke about community management issues and what the game industry and journalism industry could learn from one another on this topic. I’m fairly certain I would not have had a chance to attend GDC, much less present, if not for being part of the AU Game Lab.

Also, I was able to volunteer at the Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian American Art Museum last semester and am currently working on both a game and a conference paper for a developing project at Indie Arcade.

How has your interest in gaming changed your life?

My interest in gaming led me to the Game Design program, and now, I feel equipped to face whatever my future brings. Through this program, I’ve made so many like-minded contacts that finding a way forward doesn’t seem daunting. I’m currently on an internship with the Educational Testing Service for the summer working on projects related to game design and assessment. The knowledge I’ve obtained and the skills I’ve developed as a student in the Game Lab have given me the confidence to talk about game design issues as they pertain to assessment with peers and supervisors, and has given me the unique perspective of someone who simultaneously inhabits both the psychological assessment and game design worlds.

Want to follow in Kelli’s footsteps? Apply to the American University Game Design Program today!

Game Lab at Indie Arcade

6 Game Conferences You Should Know About

If you are serious about games, you need to check out the best game conferences. To make the most of your opportunity, it’s crucial that you find the one which is right for you. Luckily, American University’s Game Lab team has checked them all out and can give you the info you need.

AU Game lab students present at GDC panel1. GDC

The Game Developers Conference, GDC, hosts pros from all corners of the gaming world. Everyone from audio designers to business executives attend. Based out of the tech-hub of San Francisco, GDC is the perfect forum for graduate students to learn and gain access to a wide range of awesome opportunities. The American University Game Lab travels to this conference for those opportunities. Lindsay Grace, founding director of the American University Game Lab and Studio, has even spoken on panels at the conference. He’s a game-creator whose work has been inducted to the Games for Change Festival’s Hall of Fame. What’s Games for Change? Keep reading to find out!

AU Game Lab faculty and students at Games for Change 2. Games for Change

Games for Change is a non-profit corporation that puts on a yearly festival specifically for those who believe that gaming should both entertain and be a tool for social progress. Benjamin Stokes, an assistant professor in the AU Game Lab, co-founded Games for Change to bring together forward-thinking designers. Hosted in NYC, this fest is for anyone who has a knack for creating change through games. AU grad students hosted a table in 2015, and are constantly involved in this can’t-miss event.

But what if you’re looking to find the next Braid or Super Meat Boy? Then you need to venture into the realm of indie gaming. Two top indie conferences are Indiecade and Indie Arcade.

Screenshot of Prom Week by Mike Treanor3. Indiecade

Indiecade is the largest event of its kind. While there, you’ll get to meet legends of the indie gaming world, and demo over 200 innovative games from around the globe. Maybe you’ll even submit your own work, like Game Lab Assistant Professor Mike Treanor, whose game, Prom Week, was a finalist or Assistant Professor Benjamin Stokes whose game Sankofa Says was featured at the festival.


AU Game Lab at Indie Arcade4. Indie Arcade

With more than 11,000 participants in 2016, Indie Arcade can’t be beat. Supported by the trailblazing team at the AU Game Lab in partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, this yearly pop-up arcade celebrates America’s independent game developers and creates a perfect forum for experiencing the future of gaming. For a closer look at the festival in action check out this short video.


Chris Totten presents at Magfest5. Magfest

Not your typical conference, Magfest blends gaming with music to provide an awesome mash-up. Chris Totten, Game Designer in Residence at AU, presented his game, Dead Man’s Trail, at the Indie Game Showcase of the 2016 Magfest to rave reviews. Chris and Lindsay Grace have also sat on panels for the event. Its DC location makes it convenient for all members of the AU Game Lab.


AU Game Lab faculty member Mike Treanor6. DiGRA + FDG

How about something brand new? This year, the DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) and FDG (Foundations of Digital Games) conferences will join forces for their first ever joint international conference. Hosted in Scotland, this collaborative academic conference has six tracks including game design, game criticism and analysis, game technology and artificial intelligence. One of the hallmarks of the event is the Doctoral Consortium, headed by AU Assistant Professor, Mike Treanor, who will work with students in the early stages of their Ph.D. The AU Game Lab is also co-sponsoring a hallmark of the conference, Blank Arcade, being co-curated by Lindsay Grace.

The other hallmark of this event is the diverse workshops it offers. If you can make it, don’t miss the Social Believability in Games Workshops that AU’s own Joshua McCoy helped organize. We all know games are better when the characters are believable, but how do you make an authentic character? Find that answer and more with this immersive workshop at this robust conference.


Interested in the Gaming? Start your path to gamer glory at the American University Game Lab.


4 Northern Virginia Writers’ Colonies & Conferences to Explore

We’re lucky to be within close proximity to a number of great writers’ colonies and conferences in the Washington, DC, metro area.

Writers’ colonies offer quiet space and solitude to support the creation of new work, and to remove daily distractions like friends and families and routines from the writing process. Workshops and conferences offer the vibrancy of community—energizing conversations, sharp feedback, and inspiring instruction.

Below are a few of the opportunities that we encourage AU students to explore in the area:

  1. Virginia Center for the Arts
    Tucked into the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, writers, artists, and composers enjoy private studios, bedrooms, and three meals a day. They spend their days working alone before coming together for dinner to get to know other colony artists.

Length: Offering residencies between two weeks and two months

Cost: Fellows are asked to contribute as they can


  1. Hurston/Wright Summer Writers Weeks
    At Howard University in the heart of DC, the Hurston/Wright Foundation offers a safe space for fiction and nonfiction writers, in a week of intensive master classes and workshops. The program includes workshop sessions led by award-winning writers—this year it’s Ralph Eubanks in creative nonfiction and Elizabeth Nunez in fiction—as well as craft talks, public readings, and private writing time to put new learning into practice. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

Length: One week (this year, August 6-August 12)

Cost: $700 tuition (housing not included, but discounted hotel rates are available)


  1. Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop
    On the campus of Hollins University, writers gather for workshops in a range of genres and forms—novel writing, genre writing, poetry, flash fiction, and more—to receive guidance from experienced teachers and to work alongside other serious writers.

Length: One week (this year: June 12-17)

Cost: $795 tuition (plus additional fees for housing and meal plans)


  1. Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference
    Fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and poets are invited to gather on the historic University of Virginia campus alongside committed writers at various stages in their careers. They participate in workshops and craft talks with distinguished faculty—this year it’s Major Jackson, Meghan Daum, and Bret Anthony Johnson. In the evenings, students and faculty have the chance to explore Charlottesville’s great restaurants and night life.

Length: One week (this year: July 13-17)

Cost: $1,100 (tuition, lodging, and meals included)


You can also build community even without going to a residency or workshop. Get involved with the Inner Loop or explore other literary organizations and activities for DC writers in our previous post.


Interested in joining the DC writing community? Check out the only creative writing MFA program in Washington, DC.


Global Healthy Workplace Summit Brings Program Innovation to Washington, DC

By Wolf Kirsten

Regardless of country, historical background, local government, or cultural trends, workplace health promotion is vital. It’s easier than ever to fall into sedentary behaviors and poor eating habits, which is why we need more professionals throughout the world who have the talents, passion, and work ethic to help people, organizations and communities change lifestyle behaviors and improve their health.

The fourth annual Global Healthy Workplace Awards & Summit, set for June 7 in Washington, DC, is an exciting convergence of groups and individuals from across the globe who are taking health promotion to new places in innovative ways.

Although not associated with the World Health Organization, the #GHWAwards follow the WHO’s Healthy Workplace framework—a comprehensive way of thinking and acting that addresses workplace risks, promotes and supports healthy behaviors, and takes into consideration broad social and environmental determinants. The six healthiest workplaces in the world will present their programs in front of a distinguished panel of judges and audience members.

Taking place on the campus of American University—my alma mater—this event celebrates the only global awards program in the field. It’s also an invaluable opportunity for AU students in the Health Promotion Management Program to see not only how their future profession is progressing, but why those in the field believe their messages of health and well-being can and will be heard.

It’s important to remember that workplace health promotion is expanding all over the world—it’s called the “Global” Healthy Workplace Awards & Summit for a reason. No two countries are the same, thus health promotion requires tailored efforts.

Social factors affecting workplace health may vary from country to country, but certain aspects of employer health programs prove important no matter where in the world you are—factors such as:

  • Support from senior management and leadership. Buy-in from those in charge goes a long way toward workplace health advancement. Without buy-in, such progress is virtually impossible.
  • Comprehensive and integrated programming. Many modern-day programs address the physical work environment, psychosocial work environment, personal health resources, and enterprise-community involvement.
  • Worker involvement—from the beginning. Ideally, new employees are educated about workplace health programs during the on-boarding process—and simultaneously inspired to jump right in. In addition, employees’ input on programming needs to be sought from the outset. That’s a how a culture of health and well-being takes shape.
  • Following a continual improvement process (including evaluation).

Of course, implementing health promotion programs involves much more than simply building employee participation. A program is much more likely to thrive when it fits the organization’s underlying mission and goals.

Measuring success can be tricky, though—especially because health care costs are measured differently in the US than they are in most other countries. Because US employers carry the burden of direct healthcare costs, for them it is all about containing or reducing these costs. In the rest of the world, the drivers behind wellness programs are much broader, including:

  • Absenteeism
  • Productivity
  • Employee morale and engagement
  • Recruitment and retention
  • Corporate social responsibility

These factors and more can be addressed by improving overall employee health and well-being, which really should be the underlying goal of workplace health programs throughout the world. Rapidly evolving program trends and emerging technologies keep health promotion professionals on their toes. They must be flexible, apt to experiment with communication methods and programming tools in response to the changing world around them. And, maybe most importantly, they must be able to convince their leadership to support and underwrite wellness programs.

When we gather at events such as the Global Healthy Workplace Awards & Summit, we have a prime opportunity to both celebrate and learn from the best and brightest in the field of health promotion management. When we improve, so does the art and science of health and well-being.


About Wolf Kirsten

Wolf is a social entrepreneur and Founder of International Health Consulting based in Tuscon, Arizona and Hamburg, Germany. He is also a proud alumnus of the health promotion management MS program.


Ready to make an impact? Interested in networking at events like #GHWAwards. Join a passionate community of health enthusiasts in master of science in health promotion management at AU.


Jumpstarting Change: Game Lab Students Showcase Findings on Community Engagement at GDC 2016

The JoLT initiative started in 2015 with the question, “Do the worlds of game design and journalism have anything to learn from each other?” The answer is yes, and three students from the American University Game Design program got to present the initiative’s findings this year at the Game Developers’ Conference. The conference, known as GDC, is the nation’s premier professionals-only gaming event and attracts over 26,000 people annually to network and share ideas.

AU game design students Joyce Rice, Cherisse Datu, and Kelli Dunlap are JoLT Fellows, which means they work with the JoLT initiative as part of their curriculum. The three women went to downtown San Francisco in mid-March to present their findings in the heart of tech industry territory alongside Game Lab Director Lindsay Grace.

Rice is the Creative Director of Symbolia, a magazine that merges comics and news; Datu is an international journalism professional interested in multi-platform news innovation; and Dunlap has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and focuses on mental health and gaming. Over the course of the past year they created and researched games that promote critical thinking about important world issues.

Their panel, “Community Engagement at the Intersection of Games and News,” explored community engagement both within the game space and without. How do you manage information to guide users to feel a certain way about a cause? What are effective styles to catch consumers’ attention on what was once considered stuffy topics? How can games further a social cause or foundation? Alongside their presentation, the panel featured a roundtable-style feedback session afterwards.

The experience was significant for Rice and company for several reasons. First and foremost, students rarely get to host an event at GDC, and earning the spot shows that their work is innovative and valuable to the community as a whole. Too, GDC itself is a fertile ground to share ideas and learn from industry leaders. It’s also the country’s best networking opportunity for game developers new and old; Microsoft and many other well-known companies are within walking distance.


JoLT is a collaboration between American University’s Game Lab and the School of Communication, and is funded through a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Hosted at AU, JoLT brings together faculty, students, and industry professionals from both worlds.

At first, this might seem like an odd pairing of disciplines, but game designers are very good at engaging their audience in a way that leaves a lasting impression; however, the industry has a longstanding issue with addressing social responsibility. Meanwhile, journalists often center on human-focused issues, but the industry struggles for engagement and guided understanding, as well as lasting impact once away from the article.

JoLT’s first year brought together academics and industry professionals from both sides along with GameLab students to identify what we know, what we didn’t know, and our potential to do great things in the world through gaming. And then, they built games.


The JoLT team discovered that when news is changed from a standard, linear narrative to an interactive experience, it can both change people’s perspectives effectively and promote consumer action.

For instance, the game Cow Crusher illustrates the barbaric practices of slaughterhouses in way that is much cuter than real life, but still shifts one’s understanding in a targeted way.

Meanwhile, Factitious, one of the ongoing outreach projects developed through JoLT, uses an online game designed to work in classrooms—it teaches high school students how to spot fake or fabricated news. Such media literacy is crucial to having an educated citizenry, who in turn consume more—and more intelligent—media. Which, at the end of the day, may promote more investigative and social-minded news media being funded and created, which benefits everyone.


Interested in the Game Design MA at American University? Apply today!


7 Health, Fitness, and Nutrition Blogs You Should Follow

The rapid expansion of health-related content available on the Internet has its pros and cons. The most notable drawback is that consumers often feel overwhelmed and confused by hundreds of conflicting opinions, which can lead to poor decisions that hinder or at least stagnate health progress.

With all of the fitness and nutrition blogs out there, how do you know which ones to follow? We asked our students and faculty to recommend a few favorites. Here are seven health, fitness, and nutrition blogs you should follow:


  1. Healthy Happy Life

If the vibrant photography and inventive recipes don’t instantly draw you in, the ebullient personality of the author likely will. Vegan blogger and cookbook author Kathy Patalsky—a graduate of the Health Promotion Management Program at American University—drizzles every last drop of positivity and passion into her artfully designed concoctions.

Readers who aren’t vegan might just change their minds after spending a bit of time at Healthy Happy Life blog. Her sincere effusiveness and sunny disposition about creatively healthy fare is on point and looks so, so good.


  1. PlantifulBlog

Devin Ellsworth is another deeply passionate vegan blogger, coming from the unique perspective of a health coach. The PlantifulBlog provides valuable tips and personal stories that can help aspiring plant devotees stay the course.

Fully embracing any new diet/lifestyle can be really difficult, but’s it’s always easier with support from people who’ve walked in your shoes. Devin, who earned a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University, uses understanding, encouragement, and humor to guide people down a healthier path.


  1. Oh She Glows

For “Type A” vegans, Oh She Glows is a plant-based recipe blog that’s chock full of hearty details and tips. However, it’s much more than that. Angela Liddon, whose blog is read by more than 1 million people per month and who is releasing her second cookbook this fall, strives to inspire healthier eating for people of all backgrounds and beliefs.

“The best part about my recipes is that anyone can enjoy them, from vegans to omnivores alike,” Angela writes, adding that she hopes to inspire major changes such as losing weight, reducing meat consumption, overcoming eating disorders, and changing careers.


  1. Run to the Finish

If variety is the spice of life, the Run to the Finish blog is a full-on spice rack. Amanda Brooks uses her own story and knowledge as a foundation for sharing ideas that reinforce clean eating, fitness, and overall health and well-being.

Run to the Finish zigs and zags through an array of lifestyle topics, including nutritious recipes, workout routines, running tips, motivation, expert interviews, travel, and much more.


  1. Fannetastic Food

As a registered dietician, Anne Mauney uses her blog to share her expertise in healthy, tasty recipes—but Fannetastic Food is about much more than nutrition. Anne, who has a master’s of public health degree, is a marathoner, yogi and CrossFitter, as well as an advocate for outdoors recreation, adventure and travel.

The many photos routinely found in Anne’s posts help illustrate the diversity of daily situations in which solid choices can impact a person’s health.


  1. Minutes Per Mile

Mary from Nashville resonates with people because she talks about the stuff that people who want to stay healthy actually talk about. She shares stories about things that, for many, help make healthy living more fun and easy to embrace, such as:

  • Cool fitness-related gadgets and apparel
  • Delicious meals
  • Races
  • The mind-set of runners—with great tips for success

Mary also keeps her blog funny and honest. She always seems to share about what she’s feeling at that moment, which helps make her words more relatable and easy to integrate into one’s own life.


  1. Coffee Cake and Cardio

Coffee Cake and Cardio is much more about real life than the “perfect life.” Former powerlifter and track and field thrower Ashley talks about struggles, not just victories. She discusses what works and what fails miserably. Perhaps most importantly, she provides a viewpoint that many moms can relate and respond to.

While not fully about fitness or nutrition, Coffee Cake and Cardio consistently takes an honest, positive look at ways to improve well-being and become more self-aware.


You can keep track of news and progress in health and well-being by following American University’s Health Promotion Management Program Facebook page.


AU Researcher Suggests Avoiding Certain Food Additives Can Alleviate Neurological Symptoms

D15_158_August_OS_Faculty nfs Kathleen_Holton, SETH, faculty

Often it’s the hot-button, trendy, social-media-friendly health topics that get the general populace buzzing about health and well-being. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, there’s a wealth of research, strategy, and passion converging in efforts to truly improve the state of health—and not just spur a new crop of popular diet books.

In the work of Dr. Kathleen Holton, a nutritional neuroscientist and Assistant Professor at American University, there is the rare collision of mainstream trendiness and highly substantive research, as she delves into an issue that affects virtually everyone: food additives.

Over the years, the popularity of various sugar substitutes has swelled and waned, over and over again. Today it is found in everything from soda and cookies to gum, breath mints, yogurts, cereals, and even bread. Many people seem to feel a sense of nutrition invincibility when using their sweetener of choice instead of sugar.

On the contrary, Dr. Holton recommends that people avoid all artificial sweeteners. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Association with many negative health effects
  • Potential adverse effect on ability to taste natural sweetness in food
  • Artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, which cultivates increased desire for sweetness in foods

“My goal is to help people eat better, which includes eating more fruits and vegetables,” Holton said. “I want people to be able to taste the natural sugar in these foods, and the best way to do that is to help them reduce their consumption of highly sweet foods.”


Research: Avoiding Food Additives Can Alleviate Neurological Symptoms

Dr. Holton’s research examines the negative effects of dietary excitotoxins on neurological symptoms, as well as the protective effects of certain micronutrients on the brain. The most common dietary excitotoxins in the US. are from food additives used as flavor enhancers, such as MSG, and the artificial sweetener aspartame.

Early in Dr. Holton’s career, she was intrigued by anecdotal reports of neurological symptoms being reduced when people stopped consuming certain food additives. Her research into the chemical composition of these food additives, and the potential biologic mechanism for how these may be able to affect health, led her to create a diet that limited the consumption of certain additives. She has tested this diet in individuals with fibromyalgia, with very promising results, and will be testing the diet as a potential treatment for ADHD in the near future.

“Studying this diet has been amazing on multiple fronts,” Dr. Holton said. “Not only have I seen dramatic improvement in neurological symptoms such as pain, memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, and mental health disorders like depression and OCD, but importantly, I have also watched subjects report a huge reduction in cravings for junk food, which may also have important implications for the obesity epidemic.”


Informing the Masses

While phrases such as “dietary excitotoxins” aren’t likely to crack the general public’s lexicon anytime soon, Dr. Holton does hope more people will recognize and respond to the health ramifications of poor dietary choices, including the fact that processed food in our country is not only a source of excess fat and sugar in the diet, but also increases our exposure to food additives. “For instance, in the US we are exposed to more than 3,000 food additives, whereas in Canada and the European Union, people are exposed to less than 500 food additives.”

As Dr. Holton’s research illustrates, there is plenty of work to be done by graduates of health programs such as those at American University. There’s a wealth of knowledge that needs to be communicated through workplaces, nonprofits, governmental agencies, schools and more, to help individuals improve their health.

In the nutrition classes that Dr. Holton teaches at AU, she sees students who are excited to learn about health and who are passionate for the work they will be doing in the future.

“I love hearing about their conversations with friends and relatives and how they are looking at what they eat in a whole new way. Nutrition education is something that can profoundly impact people’s lives.”


Interested in research like Dr. Holton’s on food additives? Learn more about a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University.




Why Exploring Multiple Genres Matters and Other Insights from Rachel Louise Snyder

RLS_Author_PhotoA distinguishing feature of AU’s MFA in creative writing program is the opportunity to explore multiple genres, discovering how poetry, fiction, and nonfiction can feed one another and lead to expansive career opportunities.

AU Associate Professor Rachel Louise Snyder has a body of work that embodies our cross-genre values, with achievements in both fiction and nonfiction.

Since receiving her MFA from Emerson, Rachel has written nonfiction for a number of publications including the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and Glamour, and contributed to top radio shows including This American Life, Marketplace, and All Things Considered.

Her first book was a work of nonfiction called Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade (WW Norton, 2008), which was excerpted on This American Life and won an Overseas Press Award.

In addition to her extensive nonfiction credits, she has a novel called What We’ve Lost is Nothing, which follows the aftermath of a crime in an Illinois suburb (Scribner, 2014), and which was named one of’s “Ten Best Suspense Books.”

We connected with Rachel to discuss how cross-genre work has shaped her career.


Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a writer working in multiple genres?

I’ve always moved organically through the genres. I’ve kept journals off and on since I was eight years old, and as a teenager I wrote very bad poetry and fiction. In college, most of the classes I took were in fiction. Early in grad school, I gravitated toward poetry, but had a terrible experience in a class one day with a professor and it scared me away from poetry—which is too bad, really. I always saw myself as a fiction writer, primarily.

My thesis was a book of short stories. But I took one class in nonfiction in my final semester of grad school and published work from that class, so it became a de facto genre, mostly because you could earn money writing nonfiction much more easily than fiction—a fact which holds true still today. So nearly all of what I’ve learned as a journalist has been on the job.


What do you see as the relationship between your novelist self and your nonfiction writing self?

I think all art informs other mediums. I also paint and listen to music like a lunatic, and I consider these almost meditations for my writing. If I’m stuck in a writing project, I will often pop into a museum and study the lines of a painting or some other piece of art that grabs me. But to answer your question, there is a difference not so much between nonfiction and fiction for me, but between fiction and journalism, or nonfiction work that is creative in nature and journalism, which at its core is about someone else, and also about the reportage.

Journalism is more like a math problem. I have to figure out the formula and put everything in a particular order, but there’s not something necessarily for me to discover (beyond the stakes of the piece). With fiction and more personal nonfiction, there is always that discovery, and so it exists in a different place in my mind and body. I can’t work on two creative pieces simultaneously, but I can work on journalism and a creative piece.


How did your own MFA program help you move closer to your writing goals, or shape you as a writer?

I’m glad you asked that, because there is this raging debate going on about whether or not an MFA degree is worth it, and to me it’s sort of a ridiculous question. Maybe some people at 22 years old, or 24 or whatever, have enough confidence in their own abilities to not go through the MFA experience, but I was not one of these writers. I was riddled with self-doubt.

For me, the MFA is about time to develop your writing muscles. Yes, a moment in life when someone will actually care about what you’re writing, but it’s also about cultivating the tools you’re going to need out there in the world of writing and publishing—which can be very cutthroat, and brutal, and unforgiving. It’s about learning self-discipline, learning that rejection is relentless (but hopefully so are you!), learning what writing will and won’t be in your life.

No one ever questions a graduate degree in business, for example, like they do with the arts. Why is that? What do you learn in business school that you can’t learn from experience in the workplace? (Lots of things, is the answer, and in a context in which there are no stakes. It is precisely the same for the arts).


What advice do you have for current or prospective MFA students who are interested in writing in multiple genres?

My first piece of advice is embedded in the question: even if you consider yourself a poet, or a journalist, or a fiction writer, learn other genres. I spent three months last spring reading nothing but poetry and from that experience wrote some of the most powerful nonfiction material I’d ever written.

If you’re naturally inclined toward multiple genres, then you’re already ahead of the game. We don’t live in vacuums and we ought not confine ourselves to them in any of our endeavors, in my opinion. But it’s also hard to find an MFA program that will allow multiple genres in the way that AU does. So that would be one of the primary questions I’d ask any potential program.


If you’re interested in exploring multiple genres, check out the Creative Writing Program at American University.


3 Tips from Health Promotion Management Alumni

By Stephanie George, MS, CHES

Stephanie_George__HeadshotWithout question, one of the best parts of my career in health promotion management is the opportunity to meet and encourage my future colleagues in this field—a field defined by true passion for better health and well-being.

Recently I returned to my alma mater for American University’s Annual Alumni Panel for the Health Promotion Management Program. This was a prime opportunity for aspiring professionals to learn different ways their degrees can be utilized to make a difference in the world. Even just the list of panelists is an encouraging indicator of what’s possible for health promotion students:

  • Jessica Mack (MS ’05): Manager of Corporate Health at Virginia Hospital
  • Teha Kennard (MS ’08): Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Lauren Brayer (MS ’09): Senior Program Manager at Sodexo
  • Sarah Kuchinos (MS ’13): Fitness Specialist at National Center for Weight and Wellness
  • Moderator – Sherry Compton (MS ’05): Independent Management Consultant

I graduated from AU with a master’s degree in health promotion management in May 2014 and now work as a Wellness Program Administrator for Navy Federal Credit Union, facilitating their employee wellness programs and initiatives. My fellow event panelists and I may have very different jobs among us, but we were able to agree on several important tips for attendees to both navigate the health promotion job market and maximize their potential in the field they love.


1. When in doubt, network.

College students often are intimidated by the idea of networking and reaching out to people they don’t know very well, but in reality, most professionals are very helpful—if asked. Most people are willing to meet up for coffee and share their experiences. Often the topics range from health promotion trends to intra-office politics and how things actually work behind the scenes. All of it is good to know.

Even the savviest networking efforts don’t always directly lead to a job offer, but the info gleaned is invaluable. Also, the whole process is great practice for interviewing and selecting positions to apply for in the future.


2. Convey your passion for health promotion.

Whether at a casual gathering or in a crowded boardroom, be honest about your passion for health and well-being—and for promoting it. People will respond to your enthusiasm. If you don’t speak up about what you’re interested in, you might miss out on valuable opportunities.

Our panel noted that while there are many variables affecting one’s work in the health promotion field, the main drivers of success include:

  • Passion
  • Hard work
  • Continual learning
  • Persistence
  • Creativity
  • Ability and willingness to adapt


3. Seize every opportunity.

It’s impossible to predict the quantity and quality of opportunities you’ll encounter during your career. Perhaps the next one will be the best you ever find.

Take advantage of every opportunity. View every experience as a chance to learn more about yourself and the industry. Even if the process involves stepping outside your comfort zone, you’ll find that it’s worth the effort.

With a master’s degree in health promotion management, there are so many potential paths that lie in front of you. Those paths lead in different directions, with unique twists and turns along the way. You may have to traverse a few of them before finding your niche.

Wherever you end up, we welcome you to the world of health promotion management—where improving health and well-being is equal parts art and science.


Are you considering a career that involves the art and science of health promotion? Learn about achieving a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University.

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How an MFA Professor’s Challenge Led to a Student’s First Book

Written by Glen Finland

American University Professor Denise Orenstein was adamant—“Write about the one thing you don’t want to write about.” It wasn’t easy, but she was right. Once I got up the courage to try it, the truth popped out. Ten years later, Putnam published my book Next Stop.

In 2002, at age 50, I decided to go back to school. I’d taken a decade long kids-raising shift away from journalism and was now keen to step into the world of teachers, visiting authors, and everyday folks like me who simply love the written word. Even though I fit into the category of non-traditional student—shorthand for being the oldest face around the MFA table—I learned to never underestimate how being present in other writers’ lives enriches one’s own. Of course, we all know that writing is hard work and often done in seclusion, so it didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen in a bubble. It developed over 10 years inside Washington’s community of writers—and it started with that professor’s dare at AU.

The first time I read my nonfiction aloud to a group of MFA candidates young enough to be any of my three sons, Professor Orenstein came and sat next to me at the start of class. No one could see that under the table she was holding my hand, squeezing me onward, graf by graf.

Over the next three years in that same room, I often witnessed the power of community. With every Can you say more? The genuine curiosity of my fellow writers gave each of us a deeper way into our work. A few were quick to raise a flag over verbal clutter in a work-in-progress or a missed opportunity in a short story; but rather than resentment, the humor and depth of purpose around the table seemed to breed trust. I realized each of us were there to improve our craft. Sitting in that circle forced me to pay more attention to what was not being said, to write more about the ordinary fleas of life.

Some of my best tips came after class, from fellow writers who invited me to bivouac with them in local coffee shops to pick over our stories with tiny, pointed scalpels. Over time, an intimate understanding of each other’s work turned on repeated threads from those stories. This created an intimate trust. Three of us formed an intergenerational writer’s bond that still exists.

After one of my revised pieces was published in the Washington Post Magazine, a New York agent sent me a simple but life-changing email: “Would you consider writing a book proposal?” Yes, I wrote back without hesitation—then turned to my writing club pals and The Writer’s Center to figure out how the hell do I do that! Three months and a book proposal class later, the agent sold my idea to Putnam. Next Stop: Letting Go of an Autistic Son was published in 2012.
That spring I returned to AU as a Visiting Writer to read aloud from my original manuscript. When I finished, I took a deep breath and looked into the generous faces of my fellow everyday writers. No one looked away, and in that moment I knew the writing would hold.


About the Author

finland_glen_webGlen Finland is the author of Next Stop (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam), a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick and Penguin’s 2012 Book Club selection for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Glen’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Family Circle, Revolution, Parenting, American Magazine, Wired, Special Needs, Babble, and Autism Speaks. A featured autism advocate on NPR and CNN, Glen received the 2012 Dean’s Medal for Excellence in Communication from the University of Georgia. The mother of three grown sons, Glen received her MFA from American University in 2006.


If you’d like to experience a writing journey like Glen’s, please check out the MFA creative writing program at American University.



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An Interview with Jenny Molberg, Poet and English Professor

Jenny MolbergMany graduates of the creative writing MFA program pursue rewarding teaching opportunities to accompany their writing careers. A 2009 American University graduate, Jenny Molberg is a poet, serves as poetry editor for Pleiades, and works as assistant professor of English at the University of Central Missouri.

Jenny’s debut collection, Marvels of the Invisible, won the 2014 Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in December 2016. Her poems appear in The Missouri Review, North American Review, Copper Nickel, Mississippi Review, The Adroit Journal, Poetry International, and other journals. Her awards and honors include the 2013 Third Coast poetry prize, and she was featured in Best New Poets 2014.

After receiving her creative writing MFA from AU, Jenny pursued a PhD from the University of North Texas. She currently teaches creative writing and literature courses. We talked with Jenny over email about her experiences at AU, and how she balances life as a writer and a teacher.



What led you to choose AU for your MFA?

After living in the South, I wanted to experience something different, and focused my MFA applications in that area of the country. I was drawn to AU by the diversity of courses offered in the program—especially translation—and was impressed by the work of the faculty. Once I visited the campus, I knew AU was right for me. Campus was bustling, it was spring in DC, and I felt I would find a home in the program. When I met David Keplinger, who would be my best teacher and one of my greatest friends, I knew I had made the right choice.


What were some of the highlights of your time in the program?

The people I met at AU were the biggest highlight of my time in DC. To this day, those people are my best friends, even though I moved away when I graduated. My favorite classes were my poetry workshops with David Keplinger and Kyle Dargan, and I also really enjoyed my course in translation with David. Keith Leonard taught a class called Performing the Word that blew my mind, and I did an independent study with Erik Dussere on Morrison and Faulkner. My scholarly interest in literature grew immensely with those two courses.

Outside the classroom, two experiences stand out in my mind: I was able to work as an assistant editor for Poet Lore, where I met Ethelbert Miller, from whom I learned a great deal about publishing and contemporary poetry. Then, in 2008, the Obamas hosted a night of poetry, music, and the spoken word at the White House, and I was able to go with a couple of my peers as a local poetry student. That was an amazing experience. We heard an early rendition of a song from Hamilton, James Earl Jones performed a soliloquy from Othello, and Joshua Bennett performed an unforgettable poem. It was an incredible time to be in DC.


In what ways did you grow as a writer during your time in the MFA program?

I think I grew enormously as a writer because of my teachers and peers who held me to high standards and pushed me to want to be better, to out-write my old self. I learned how to obsess (in a good way) over words, thanks to David and Kyle. I grew as an editor, reading the work of my peers, and I also grew more in my passion for poetry. It’s a love that never stops growing. My friends and I used to sit late into the night, drinking wine, reading poems to each other, falling in love with the words.


Please describe your current teaching position. What courses do you teach?

I am an assistant professor of English at the University of Central Missouri, where I teach Advanced Poetry, Introduction to Creative Writing, and modern and contemporary American Literature. I also serve as the poetry editor for Pleiades and the assistant director of Pleiades Press here at UCM.


How do you balance your writing life and teaching life?

It’s difficult, especially because I am in my first year of a tenure-track job, but I find that I am constantly challenged and inspired by my students, who make me want to go home to write. Sending work out and applying for grants and residencies becomes difficult with a very busy teaching load—sometimes I just dedicate a Saturday to reading, writing, and sending out poems.


What experiences from your time in the MFA program have been most beneficial in feeding your teaching career?

Watching and learning from good teachers. I often think WWDD: what would David do? One thing I learned from David that was so invaluable was that you can be positive, excited about poetry, and encouraging to your students, and this will help them grow immensely as writers in ways that harsh criticism fails. Criticism is not always bad, but when you help a young writer to see what they are doing right, they will want to keep doing that thing. I try to help my students to see that. Also, the MFA program helped me to think and talk deeply about literature, to ask the difficult questions, to consider the responsibility of writer to the reader. This kind of thinking helps me (try) to convince my students to fall in love with poetry as I have.


Is there any advice you’d give to prospective or current MFA students about pursuing a teaching career?

Keep reading and writing voraciously. In the job market now, it seems helpful to have a book published, so if you are able to do this soon after you complete your MFA, you will be more competitive on the market. Don’t shy away from sending your work out: rejection is hard, but the validation of seeing your work on the page and joining the creative conversation is worth it. Pay attention to the way your best teachers guide and mentor you. Go to conferences and attend (or participate in) pedagogy panels—this can be extremely helpful, and you will probably pick up great teaching ideas. If you can gain teaching experience while you are at AU through the teaching-track, I’d encourage you to do so, if a future in teaching is one of your goals.


If you’d like to share Jenny’s experiences writing in DC, and perhaps pursue a teaching post in the future, please please check out the MFA creative writing program at American University.

DC Capitol

5 Reasons to Study Health in DC

No city features a more diverse convergence of richly beneficial internship and service opportunities than Washington, DC. Our graduate students discover many perks while living and studying in the District. So we asked for their thoughts, and they answered. Here are the five most exciting advantages of studying health in DC:

1. Social Justice Opportunities

Social justice means different things to different types of people. Luckily, DC has something for just about everyone. A large amount of nationally known nonprofits are headquartered here, covering just about every issue imaginable.

Naturally, many health promotion management students interpret social justice through the lens of widening opportunities for people to improve their health and well-being. You can easily find dozens of DC-based, health-related nonprofits to volunteer or intern at, including:


2. Access to Federal Agencies and Lawmakers

American University students are in close proximity to the lawmakers who shape many critical policies, as well as the national budget. You’ll attend public meetings that provide more than a glimpse into how nation-changing decisions originate and come to fruition.

Federal agencies provide a wealth of potential, too. Enterprising students—often with help from professors and alumni—can seek internships, research materials, informational interviews, and more from impactful agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.


3. International Experiences

Washington, DC, also functions as a de facto gateway into international opportunities. This area is a hotbed for internationally focused groups such as the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

With so many US and international organizations based nearby, AU students with worldwide goals can work to make connections and develop relationships that will help them secure internships or full-time positions overseas after graduation.


4. Vibrant ‘Classroom’ Experiences

In many situations, it’s the university itself that connects health promotion graduate students with unique opportunities in Washington, DC. Health-related advocacy exercises on Capitol Hill. On-campus lectures from global leaders. Off-campus tours of significant organizations. Our students’ experiences go far beyond the pages of a textbook and the edges of a whiteboard.

“Studying in DC gives me access to amazing professionals and staff, internships, volunteering, and networking events,” said Andrea Battaglia, who is working toward a health promotion management master’s degree from AU. “The success that lies within the city is both empowering and motivational.”


5. Clean Living

Beyond the numerous opportunities for innovative learning and career preparation, DC is a great place for health-minded individuals to live, study, work, and play. Andrea said she enjoys how clean the city is, with great weather that draws adventurous, outdoorsy people to the area.

“I love being able to walk around different parts of DC, whether it’s a farmers market or the waterfront, with thousands of people buzzing on the sidewalks,” Battaglia said.

The benefits of studying health in Washington, DC, extend from the classroom to local businesses and agencies to the community’s parks and walkways. It’s a comprehensive experience that serves as a wonderful base for a career spent promoting health and well-being.


If you are interested in pursuing your master’s degree in health promotion management in Washington, DC, please visit our program page to start your application today.




Notes from Rome: An Interview with MFA Student Nancy Kidder

Last summer, the AU creative writing MFA program launched an annual study abroad program in Rome, through a partnership with John Cabot University’s Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. The program allows our students to spend five weeks with a writer in residence and take literature and writing classes—all while exploring Rome and nearby areas.

AU group in Rome.Nancy Kidder (center), who will graduate from the creative writing MFA program this spring, participated in the program last summer. She spoke with us over email about her experiences at AU and in Rome.


Tell us us a little bit about your background. What led you to the
AU creative writing MFA program?

Despite an early interest in writing, I stopped writing creatively by high school. I thought I needed to be responsible. I went to Duke University, started as pre-med, and ultimately changed my major to English. Yet I never allowed myself to take a writing workshop. I never studied abroad. I got married. Moved to DC. Worked for a senator. Had a daughter. Moved to Ohio. Then moved back to DC. In the spring of 2013, I applied to American University’s MFA program. What had changed? I finally realized why I wasn’t writing: I was scared. I now embrace this fear and try to funnel it into my writing. Yes, I risk ridicule or rejection, but the rewards have been worth it.


What has been your focus in your MFA studies, and how has the program put you in touch with an international writing community?

I chose AU for its impressive faculty and diverse workshop opportunities. Yet, I have discovered so much more. While I came in writing fiction, I later fell in love with creative non-fiction, eventually constructing my thesis from personal essays.

For a translation class, I reached out to and ultimately established a close relationship with a young Turkish poet, Yaprak Oz, who I traveled to meet in Istanbul in early 2015. Oz would later visit Washington, DC, in September 2015 for readings with the AU community and the American Turkish Association.

And I got to write in Rome. During my second year, I learned that the AU MFA program was partnering with John Cabot University. Not only would our credits be transferred, but JCU would provide a discount on tuition, a balance that would help offset travel expenses. In other words, studying in Rome would be essentially the same price as taking a class here in DC. As you can imagine, having missed going abroad as an undergraduate, I was on board immediately.


How would you describe the learning environment and instruction in the Rome program?  

One incentive to go to Rome was the opportunity to take a poetry workshop with AU professor David Keplinger. Not only did Keplinger encourage a poetry novice like myself to take risks (I wrote a sestina!), he incorporated the Roman landscape into class, prompting us to roam churches for inspiration and bringing us to the Yeats-Shelly Museum, the final home of young poet John Keats.

Professor Elizabeth Geoghegan’s mesmerizing American literature class, “How to Read Like a Writer,” helped us understand the prose maneuvers of writers such as Flannery O’Conner, Thomas Mann, and Jennifer Egan.

We were also fortunate to have acclaimed nonfiction writer, Edmund White as a writer in residence at JCU. He provided gems of wisdom, including the necessity of a few “dumb sentences.” According to White, a reader sometimes needs a break in order to appreciate the longer, more eloquent phrases.


What was it like to spend time in Italy? How did the landscape and culture inspire your work?

JCU is in the heart of Trastevere, an ancient district of Rome located on the west bank of the Tiber. It is home to ancient homes and churches and winding streets lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. Walking along these alleyways, ducking past locals and tourists, it’s evident that Rome is a city of noises. From the church bells of Santa Maria, to the scooters whizzing by, to the accordion players stationed in the square, it’s a feast for your ears. My roommate and I would often wake up to children voicing, “Ma-Ma! Ma-Ma!” Later, we’d hear the stomping footsteps of a tour group, the guide describing the everyday lives of our previous medieval homeowners. At night, the cries of seagulls, former ocean dwellers that have recently taken residence in a now saltier Tiber, pummeled through, making known that we were not the only new residents in this city.

We were within walking distance from the Forum, the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Spanish Steps. The Termini train station was a long walk or short taxi ride away, allowing for easy access to other cities. During my stay, I visited Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Sardinia, and Barcelona. I have been back for eight months and I still have mountains of writing material to unpack.


How would you describe your immersion in the city? Do you have any advice for other student travelers?

From Gio (“Please, don’t call me Sergio”), the bartender at our local espresso bar to Rudy, our favorite waiter at Popi Popi pizzeria, Rome quickly felt like a family. An expat JCU graduate, Jahan Genet, manages a club just off the Piazza Santa Maria and holds weekly readings for students. I am proud to say almost everyone from AU read some of their work. A couple of us even played guitars.

As for how to navigate Rome, four words: sit back and wait. Everything will take forever. Restaurants, stores, wi-fi, travel. But it’s worth it. Not only will you eat some of the best food and view some masterpieces, you’ll start to enjoy the “dolce far niente,” which translates to “sweet doing nothing.” Unlike the urgency of the Beltway, Romans take pleasure in doing less.



Would you like to see what Rome can do for your writing? Learn more about studying abroad with the AU creative writing MFA program.


Five-Year Report on the Healthy School Act

For the past five years, American University has worked with the Kaiser Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic States to assess the success of the 2010 Healthy Schools Act (HSA) in Washington, DC. The District Council enacted the HSA to help make schools healthier environments in which to learn and work.

It’s essential to ensure students’ well-being during the school day. The HSA supports that schools are just as responsible for children’s nutrition and health as they are for success in reading, math, and other traditional subjects.

To measure the impact of the HSA in its initial five-year period, campus researchers in the Health Promotion Management Program conducted a longitudinal analysis of six areas listed below. Here are some of the most encouraging success stories from the report.


School Meals

The percentage of schools that indicated their meals met or exceeded HSA requirements rose from 90 percent in 2010-11 to 100 percent in 2014-15.


School Gardens & Farm to School

The HSA initiated funding for school gardens, which boosted the prevalence of such gardens by about five percent in five years. Additionally, reporting requirements regarding processed foods helped the region attain an intriguing statistic: 95 percent of schools reported serving locally grown and/or locally processed and unprocessed foods during meal times.


Local Wellness Policy

Wide-ranging expansion of federal goals for local wellness policies fostered stronger partnerships between parents, administrators, and other involved parties. Anecdotal evidence shows unique strides ranging from new on-campus green spaces to fun family exercise nights.


School Nurses

Given their role as the link between family, community, school personnel, and healthcare providers, school nurses were identified as a key priority in the HSA. As a result, the percentage of schools with either a part-time or full-time nurse rose in both public schools and public charter schools.


Physical Education

Physical activity is critical to optimizing cognitive function during the school day, which is why the HSA made consistent physical education time a priority. In five years, the average minutes of physical education per week for middle-schoolers rose by more than 30 minutes.

The success of the Healthy Schools Act has united local leaders and parents in their support of continued focus and effort toward better health and wellness for children. Much work lies ahead, yet clear strides thus far have shown that the HAS is on the right track for long-term impact.


Interested in more information on the HSA report results?

  • The Washington Post delves into the link between physical education and math test scores.
  • Another story takes an honest look at what’s working—increased prevalence of school nurses and on-site gardens, for instance— and what should improve, such as the average time students spend in PE.

For more data about how DC schools are improving opportunities for healthy lifestyles among students, download the full Five-Year Report on the Healthy School Act.

New Tracks in the Creative Writing Program

New Tracks in the Creative Writing MFA

The Creative Writing Program is pleased to introduce a slight change: the addition of tracks of study in the MFA that will help our students clarify their goals and prepare for their post-MFA lives.


What does this mean?

The addition of tracks will clarify the options available for our students and enable them to more specifically direct their studies from the moment they enter the program.


What will the tracks look like?

Students can direct six credits toward one of the following three tracks:

  • Professional Track: Apply six credits toward one or more internship; or combine these six credits with elective credits and work toward a graduate certificate in another field, such as arts management or audio production.
  • Teaching Track: Put six credits toward the “teaching of composition” sequence, LIT-730: Teaching Composition and LIT-731: Teaching of Writing Practicum.
  • Studio Track: Take six credits of additional writing workshops and literary craft classes.


When will the tracks go into effect?

Students will be able to choose tracks starting in May 2016.


Why are we making this change?

As the creative writing MFA program continues to admit larger numbers of students with varied academic backgrounds, the expectations and expressed needs of the program’s population have changed.

With students seeking diverse outcomes from the program, distinct tracks within the existing curriculum not only make it easier for faculty advisers to guide students, but also encourage students to begin thinking about their post-MFA options earlier.

Our hope is that tracks will enable our students to design and plan the degree experience that best supports their distinctive professional and artistic aims.


How will this change distinguish the AU creative writing MFA?

While most creative writing MFA programs offer tracks related to the genre of writing a student may study, AU has always allowed students to work in multiple genres. This is one of our program’s selling points, and often enables our students to launch more diversified careers (for one example, check out our interview with poet and nonfiction writer Sandra Beasley).

By adding tracks that focus on outcomes separate from genre, AU sets itself apart in yet another way. We’re focused on helping our students with their professional development in addition to their writing, and these tracks highlight the flexible, customizable nature of the creative writing MFA at AU.


We hope that the new tracks—in addition to our existing MFA curriculum—will support you in reaching your goals. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the MFA Creative Writing Program at American University.

Get Your MFA in Creative Writing at American University

5 Reasons to Get Your MFA in Creative Writing

Looking to connect with a community of writers? American University offers the only MFA in creative writing in the District. You’ll find lawyers, journalists, poets and authors collaborating in workshops on our campus.


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The priority deadline for fall 2016 enrollment is just around the corner. Get started on your application today.

Health Promotion Master's at American University

Earn Your Degree in Health Promotion Management

Health promotion students are passionate about health and fitness. They’re on campus brainstorming marketing plans and strategies for health promotion. They’re out in the District community impacting corporate health and wellness for local companies.


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Ready to join our community? The priority deadline for Fall 2016 enrollment is just around the corner. Get started on your application today.

2016 Health Trends from American University

2016 Health Trends from American University

This time of year, many people invest a great deal of time, thought, money, and effort into ways to improve their health and well-being. This pervasive openness to new health ideas draws people to a wide variety of health-related trends—from weight-loss programs and diet fads to exciting exercise routines.

Research in our Department of Health Studies focuses on trends in nutrition and fitness that can help people, organizations, and communities change lifestyle behaviors to move toward a state of improved health. Here are a few key 2016 trends we’ve been discussing on campus:


Health Coaching

As more people look to take their short- and long-term health into their own hands, the field of health coaching should continue to expand.

Foundationally, health coaches are trained professionals who provide mentoring, motivation, and personalized support to empower individuals to make beneficial health choices. Training programs throughout the US offer health-coaching certification.

We already see the influx of health coaches working with independent corporations, insurance companies, workplace wellness programs, and similar groups. In 2016, we envision healthcare clinics, patient-centered medical homes, and healthcare-at-home delivery organizations will utilize health coaches and patient advocates more than ever before.

In response to growing demand, new health coach training programs will arise, and existing programs will become more advanced.


Interactive Health Data

The availability of “big data” has industries and individuals clamoring for tools to analyze and respond to statistics. The rampant popularity of wearables doesn’t appear to be waning, and new tools will be increasingly interactive. Instead of simply tracking data, self-health, and fitness technology—wearables, mobile apps, and health-related games—will evolve to provide responsive coaching and granular analytics that are customizable to the user.

The sharing of personal health data via interactive technology continues to draw skepticism, but for many the benefits of personalized self-health outweigh such fears. We anticipate more healthcare facilities developing ways to integrate behavior-tracking technology into their patient care models.


Stress Support

Research indicates that stress levels in the workplace are at an all-time high. In efforts to allay the myriad of minor and major health problems stemming from stress, many companies will encourage their employees to take stress-reduction breaks, exercise regularly, and eat nutritious foods at the office. Stress-mindful businesses can greatly reduce long-term healthcare costs for the business and their staff members.

Workplaces with excellent communication between managers and their teams thrive at minimizing stress. Approximately 70 percent of individuals complain that their boss is the number one cause of their stress.


Intuitive Eating Rather than Weight Obsession

While losing weight can be an excellent boon for your health, it’s also important to address the underlying approach you take to eating. Intuitive eating enables people to develop a symbiotic relationship between their food, mind, and body. By respecting your cues for taste, hunger, and satisfaction, and by limiting negative distractions, you can improve your health without engaging in militant, potentially harmful dieting practices.


Expanded View of Overall Well-Being

With issues such as mental health and gun violence planted squarely in the public’s line of sight, 2016 will present ample opportunities for thoughtful, fair-minded discussions about overall health and well-being. As a result, we hope for strong decisions—at the individual and governmental levels—and community partnerships that cultivate healthier, safer lives throughout the world.



Interested in researching and leading change towards positive health trends in the US and throughout the world? Learn how a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University can help you reach your goals.



4 Tips for Writing a Successful Personal Statement

A promising creative manuscript is the key to a successful MFA program application. But, as the admissions committee reads applications, they know they are selecting more than good writers: they are also selecting members of the program community.

Your personal statement plays a critical role in showing the admissions committee who you are and how you’d fit into that community. So, how best to tackle it?

Kyle G. Dargan is the director of the MFA program in creative writing at AU, and he has read stacks of personal statements over the years. Below, he offers his top four tips for crafting a personal statement that stands out.


Advice from Kyle G. Dargan:

Tip #1: Tell us what or who you are currently reading or have read in the past. How has your reading influenced what you are attempting to, or what you want to, write?

Writers are readers first and foremost. One comes to an MFA program seeking a literary community, and one of the clearest ways of assessing what kind of literary community member an applicant will be is to get a sense of how and why she or he reads. Don’t worry if you have not read “the classics.” We aren’t interested in assembling a group of budding writers who have all read the same canon. We want to know what sincerely inspires and challenges you as a unique voice.


Tip #2: Articulate what it is that you want to do with the MFA degree.

An MFA is not a plug-and-play degree with a select set of professional outcomes. The opportunities are wide open, but one needs to be proactive about curating an MFA experience that will lead to opportunities to satisfy her or his own interests (as well as earning a living to support one’s writing). Even if your plans are not firm, throwing out some ideas will help us develop a sense of how we can guide you and allow us to begin considering you for certain opportunities.


Tip #3. Avoid telling us about how you’ve wanted to be a novelist since you were three years old (which many applicants actually do).

Even if you’re being sincere, telling us about your kindergarten stories and poems won’t particularly endear us to your application. You are likely a much different person now than you were as a child. We are particularly interested in what is bringing you to apply for an MFA at this point in time. That may, of course, include some of your personal history, but tell us what specifically is motivating you at this moment.


Tip #4. Convey that you know us.

We’re becoming familiar with your work via your writing sample. You should consider taking some time to familiarize yourself with our faculty—specifically those writers with whom you want to, or will likely be, in workshop. We want to know that you want to work with us. One’s experiences in writing workshops are very sensitive to the dynamic between the writer and the workshop leader. It helps to be familiar with the work of an MFA program’s faculty.


Ready to tell us about yourself? Get started with your application for the MFA Creative Writing Program at American University.


An Interview with Sandra Beasley, MFA Graduate & DC Writer

Sandra Beasley by Milly West photoPoet and nonfiction writer Sandra Beasley graduated from the AU creative writing MFA program in 2004, and she has continued to make her home in Washington, DC, in the years since.

In addition to her three collections of poetry—Theories of Falling (2008), I Was the Jukebox (2010), and Count the Waves (2015)—Sandra’s memoir, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales From an Allergic Life (2011), offers a cultural history of food allergies. She attributes her movement toward creative nonfiction to her cross-genre workshop experience in the MFA program.

Sandra’s poetry has appeared in such magazines as Tin House, The Believer, and Ploughshares, and her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post Magazine, Oxford American, and the Wall Street Journal. Her numerous honors include a 2015 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

A strong voice in the DC literary community, Sandra gives readings, visits schools, and coordinates events for the Arts Club of Washington.

We reached out to Sandra over email to find out more about her time at AU, and to get her advice for writers looking into MFA programs or launching writing careers in DC.


What led you to choose AU’s MFA program?

In the spring of 2002, I was finishing my degree at the University of Virginia, and I wanted to build on the mentorship I’d found in workshops. I applied to programs all over the country, but I felt a pull toward home in the DC area. At UVA, I’d interviewed Henry Taylor* for 3.7, a literary journal. Our scheduled hour turned into an afternoon-long conversation that included discussion of Henry’s own UVA memories, how writing had anchored him during a battle with cancer, and the craft of sonnets and clerihews. So when Henry left a message on the voicemail in my dorm room—saying he had reviewed my application, asking if I’d come study poetry with him—that settled it. All young writers dream of being heard. The American University community made me feel like my voice could matter.

[* Henry Taylor taught literature and co-directed the MFA program in creative writing from 1971–2003.]


What were your most meaningful experiences in the program? 

Thanks to the Visiting Writer Series we had incredible authors come through, such as Nick Flynn and Thomas Glave. But what really stayed with me were two unique components of the program’s requirements for study: the journalism class, taught by Henry Taylor, and the exposure to world poetry and poetry in translation, taught by Myra Sklarew. These courses should be part of every MFA curriculum. These classes broadened my sense of a literary community, and of what I could do with the degree. I can thank Richard McCann for introducing me to the craft of creative nonfiction. Not every program allows students to cross genres so freely. He said you have to find the nerve, the place where it hurts—and then press on it. That advice has stayed with me.


How has the MFA program made a difference in your career since graduation?

You don’t need an MFA to be a great writer. But an MFA-vetted manuscript can provide the basis for your first book, as it was for me with Theories of Falling. You can use an MFA as a foundation for a career—especially in cities such as Washington, DC, where a terminal degree is highly valued. My MFA was taken as a qualification for consultation opportunities, and my alumni community continues to provide connections to readings and freelancing. At American University, I was the editor-in-chief for Folio; when I later worked at The American Scholar, I applied the layout and correspondence skills I’d honed at the journal.


What advice do you have for current or prospective MFA students?

Don’t fixate on perfecting the draft at hand. Focus on acquiring skills to revise. The tough thing, after the indulgence of a graduate-level workshop, is learning to be your own best editor. That means conceptualizing the upper level of questions and proofing line by line. Be open to writing and learning in all genres, because you never know where career options will veer. Identify a few friends you might want to keep in touch with beyond the program, to trade manuscripts and moral support. Don’t be afraid to ask your professors frank questions about the publishing world—conference experiences, agent relationships, even finances. That’s not a “dirty” or shameful topic. That’s part of the business at hand, if you aim to support yourself though your writing.


How would you describe your involvement in the DC writing community? How has living in the District influenced or inspired your work?

For me, to be a writer is to be a writer in DC. Washington is where I write poems; it’s the place where I find myself in situations, realistic and surreal, that inspire poems. Sometimes the texture is subtle, in the form of referring to a bus line or a neighborhood cemetery. But where else are you going to find yourself in the same theater as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, taking in an evening show?

Washington is where my readers are, and I’ve been fortunate to receive financial support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. I host a literary series at the Arts Club of Washington, and I try to make as many readings as I can around town. If I’m in Dupont Circle, I swing by Kramerbooks. If I’m up on Connecticut Avenue, I drop in to Politics & Prose. If I’m getting my shoes repaired at Philip’s, I walk across the street to Upshur Street Books. If a local school asks me to visit, I say Yes whenever I can.

If there’s ever a chance to champion this town in print, I do, because DC deserves more credit for what it offers artists. Music, sculpture, dance, theater: it’s all here. And often free.


What advice do you have for writers looking to become more involved in the DC writing community?  

DC is full of places in which to participate. There’s no “one” scene. On a given night, there might be readings going on at five different places. Check out Bridge Street Books and the Folger Shakespeare Library’s O.B. Harrison series, if you haven’t already. Workshop with kids at 826DC, step up to the open mic at BloomBars, or absorb a lecture at Georgetown University. Just look around. When you do attend something, be sure to introduce yourself to the organizer or host. We remember your face—and we appreciate making the connection. One last thing: find a friend who agrees to meet up, and hang out for sushi before or a martini afterwards. DC is my home, and there’s tons to do, but even for me it can get lonely. You have to create community within the crowd.


If Sandra’s experiences in the MFA program and in the DC community sound like experiences you’d like to share, please check out the MFA Creative Writing Program at American University.

Interested in working with Sandra? Join her for a poetry intensive on March 13 at The Writer’s Center.


Join Us: A Literary Evening with a Cause

We hope you’ll join us on January 27 for our Annual Faculty Benefit Reading, the only MFA faculty group reading of the year.

We’re supporting an excellent cause: the important wok of 826DC—and we plan to have a good time doing it. 826DC is a nonprofit that supports students ages 6 to 18 with their writing, and helps teachers inspire their students to write.

Everyone is welcome at the benefit reading: current students, MFA applicants, and anyone who wants to check out our writing community.


What: The Annual Faculty Benefit Reading, a special night in our Visiting Writers Series, features the faculty in our MFA program—and raises funds for an amazing cause. The suggested donation is $5. Donations can also be made online.

Where: 826DC, in their brand new location on the Mezzanine level of the Tivoli Theater (across from their old location), 3333 14th St. NW, Suite M120. They’re a block away from the Columbia Heights Metro station, on the green and yellow lines.

When: January 27, 2016, 8:00 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.)

Who: A lineup of six accomplished MFA faculty members, listed alongside their most recent books:

-Kyle Dargan, author of the poetry collection Honest Engine

-Stephanie Grant, author of the novel Map of Ireland

-David Keplinger, author of the poetry collection The Most Natural Thing

-Rachel Louise Snyder, author of the novel What We’ve Lost Is Nothing

-Richard McCann, author of the linked short story collection Mother of Sorrows

-Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of the novel Balm


The Work of 826DC

We’re proud to support 826DC, a vital community resource for the District.

826DC is one of eight affiliates of 826 National, which was co-founded by author David Eggers and by veteran educator Ninive Calegari, with the goal of working alongside teachers and students on exciting, meaningful writing.

The staff at 826DC offers drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. They also collaborate with teachers to design workshops, project-based learning opportunities, and more.

Now in a new location, the organization also has a new storefront: Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co., where the magicians among us can pick up the essentials—capes, gloves, and far beyond.


Our Visiting Writers Series

While this particular reading highlights our own faculty, we’re also proud to mention writers on this year’s lineup, such as Claudia Rankine and Alexander Chee. The full schedule can be seen online.


Would you like to join our writing community? Learn more about the MFA creative writing program at American University.

Community Garden

AU Students Do Their Part to Build Healthy Communities and Give Back in DC

Written by Dr. Anastasia Snelling

Each year the students, faculty, and staff in the Health Promotion Management Program select a holiday community service project. In the past, we have adopted families from a local maternal and childcare clinic and surprised them on Christmas morning with gifts for children and/or their homes.

In 2014, we donated over 25 teddy bears to children at the local Ronald McDonald House. This year we collected canned goods for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Over 50 students, faculty, and staff, contributed hundreds of canned goods to stock the shelves of the local food bank.

Our program is committed to addressing health disparities by partnering with local community health agencies and organizations. Health Promotion Management students make it their mission to give back to the Washington DC area with active volunteerism throughout the year.

JR Denson, an incoming master’s student, had the opportunity to work on a project with Dr. Elizabeth Cotter in Arlington. JR, Dr. Cotter, and six other graduate students worked with the Arlington community to create a community garden. Together with the residents of the neighborhood, the group built plant beds filled with vegetables that were harvested at the end of the summer.

The following spring, JR was awarded a grant from AU’s Eagle Foundation. The goal of the grant was to collaborate with a local organization, Little Lights, a non-profit located in Southeast DC, which offers after school tutoring and mentoring to children living in nearby public housing.

JR was inspired by his community garden project in Arlington. Armed with a few gardening skills and a generous budget, JR worked with Little Lights staff and children to create an on-site teaching garden. Similar to the project in Arlington, JR and the team worked together to construct and harvest a garden that brought together people in the local community. At the end of the summer, JR was able to lead elementary-level cooking lessons with the children.

I’m proud to be a part of the strong community in the Health Promotion Management Program where students like JR are doing their part to take lessons learned in the classroom and apply them to give back to our community.


Looking for a graduate program that gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the local community? Learn more about the health program management MS program at AU.



Dr. Anastasia Snelling is a professor and chair of the Department of Health Studies at American University. Her research aims to understand the impact of food policy and programs on health and weight status of students and teachers in the school environment.



5 Nutrition and Health Tips for the Holidays

Even the most ardent nutrition advocate is susceptible to treat-induced slip-ups and skipped workout sessions during the holiday season. From sugary beverages and baked goods, to high-fat savory dishes, there’s a bevy of food-related obstacles to avoid. Plus, with all that eating, who has the time and willpower to stay active?

You do! With firm goals, knowledge, and cool technology, you can change your behaviors to move toward improved health and well-being. In the spirit of change and personal responsibility, here are five nutrition and health tips for the holidays.


  1. Change the Recipes, Not the Items

Many traditional holiday favorites are fairly healthy when prepared certain ways, yet quite unhealthy when other recipes are applied. Cranberry and sweet potato dishes are among the items that tend to have wide-ranging nutritional value, depending on the cook’s plan of action.

In the same vein, seasonally popular holiday meats such as ham, turkey, and goose serve as robust sources of protein. However, for these meats, strive to find recipes that minimize additional sugar, fat, and salt.


  1. Savor Moderation

At this point, most people seem to understand that almost any food item is better for you in moderation than in vast supply—especially foods that lack nutritional benefits. However, getting people to discipline themselves to eat moderate amounts of food during the holidays is easier said than done.

Self-control during the holidays is made easier when we embrace the pleasure of smaller quantities and take great care to think about and experience the flavors intertwined in each bite. When you eat less and reduce bloating, you free yourself up to be more active during the holidays too. It’s a win-win!


  1. Exercise in Spirited Spurts

The holiday season can be a tricky time to get in those regularly scheduled workouts. Between travel, family outings, parties, and general hustle and bustle, getting to the gym can be difficult.

It works out well that shorter, significantly strenuous exercise sessions arguably are the best kind for your health and well-being. Obviously 20-minute workout sessions are easier to fit into the day planner, or even spur of the moment. More importantly, studies show that high-intensity bursts of fitness help burn fat faster and improve fitness.


  1. Focus on Meals instead of Snacks

One of the most common and easily taken for granted nutrition traps is snacks. As people mill around living rooms and holiday parties, chatting, and laughing with friends or relatives, it’s all too easy to down a platter’s worth of cocktail wieners, seasonal cookies, and the like—perhaps without even realizing it.

If you can resolve yourself to become satiated during healthy, tasty square meals during the holidays, hopefully you’ll be less likely to aimlessly stuff yourself during the snacking hours.


  1. Use Technology to Your Advantage

The popularity of fitness and nutrition technology has skyrocketed as of late. While the sheer quantity of health-related apps and gadgets boggles the mind, zeroing in on one tool that fits your unique needs can be a great help.

The various fitness apps for mobile devices cater to a wide array of people. Some focus on motivating the user, while others are all about monitoring data such as daily steps, calories burned, heart rate, and much more. Goal-setting is another key function of many apps.

To improve nutritious and ramp up healthy eating, cooking gadgets often motivate people to try healthier options than they’re used to. If you have an immersion blender, oil mister, or handheld chopper, what’s standing in your way?

The holidays don’t have to be defined by unhealthy overeating and lack of exercise. With the right goals, plan of action, and even technology, you can change your behaviors and move toward a state of improved health.


Learn about how a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University can help you impact the world and change health behaviors.


Photo: Markus Spiske


5 Podcasts All Writers Should Know About

Podcasts carry value for writers that goes well beyond entertainment.

They highlight poetry readings. Author interviews. Vivid narratives.

Not just a writer’s goldmine, podcasts are also a platform for showcasing a writer’s work. Most narrative podcasts accept story pitches, and as you publish, podcasters may be interested in interviewing you for a show.

The five podcasts below are hand-picked recommendations from Kyle Dargan, creative writing MFA program director, and offer a solid start for writers’ listening.


  1. Library of Congress Poet and the Poem

Produced by the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, this DC-based podcast has featured accomplished AU alumni, including Abdul Ali and Sandra Beasley.

Award-winning poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri hosts the (approximately) monthly podcast. Recent episodes interviewed poet Kwame Alexandre, DC resident and author of 10 books, and Carlos Parada Ayala, recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Larry Neal Poetry Award.


  1. Make/Work Podcast

This monthly podcast explores the ever-present question for writers and artists: how can we balance the relationship between time spent writing and time spent working? Hosted by Scott Pinkmountain and produced by The Rumpus, Make/Work features discussions with both emerging and established artists working in multiple creative mediums—focusing on how they sustain their creative practice.

The most recent episode features Abeer Hoque, a Nigerian-born writer with Bangaldeshi roots who now lives in New York. After recently publishing her new book in India, Abeer discusses the long road to publishing, the publishing landscape in India, and more. Make/Work also sometimes produces more focused sub-series, such as one that zeroes in on the unique challenges and rewards encountered in romantic partnerships between artists.


  1. Poetry Off the Shelf

This weekly podcast from the Poetry Foundation “explores the diverse world of contemporary poetry,” and puts poetry and culture in conversation. Right now, they have a mini series running, in which poets take over mic to discuss hot topics. Recently, Franny Choi and Saeed Jones discussed “Social Media, Race, and Disney Princesses,” and Erika L. Sánchez and Jacob Saenz had an episode on sex in music and poetry. Past episodes include an introduction to Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, and a recommended selection of poems to read at gay and lesbian weddings.

Not just for poets, this podcasts keeps writers immersed in the conversations happening around the writing world.


  1. RISK!

Produced by Maximum Fun, each episode of RISK! is a place “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public.” The host, Kevin Allison, performed with the TV sketch comedy troupe The State. RISK! featured Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, and many others telling candid, raw stories in entertaining ways.


  1. Snap Judgment

Hosted by Glynn Washington, this weekly podcast boasts a “stories with a beat.” Glynn told the Guardian, “We want to get into these societal fault lines of race, class, gender, culture. We want to do deep dives to help people really understand another person’s experience. The only way to report that is through storytelling—what happened to one person.”

Recent episodes of Snap Judgment include stories of elementary school crossing guards, the haunting aftermath of a car accident involving a clown car, and a record collector’s best find in decades. This is the perfect podcast for your walking commutes—putting a beat in your step and passing the time with vibrant stories.


Our MFA program is home to a community of interesting people, listening to interesting podcasts (among many other activities). Interested in joining us? Learn more about the creative writing MFA program at AU. We also offer a graduate certificate in audio production for writers who want to produce their own podcasts and other audio recordings.


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.



Film by Best-selling Author Validates Art and Science of Health Promotion

With the presence of several hot-button, controversial health issues at the forefront in our country and world, it’s easy to lose sight of the depth and breadth of factors affecting health and well-being. It’s about much more than insurance coverage and calorie counting.

As best-selling author Tom Rath addresses in his book and documentary Are You Fully Charged?, improving health and well-being is a complex, multi-faceted endeavor. Through his research, Rath has unearthed factors that indicate a “fully charged” day-to-day life. He found amazing stories of healthier choices, interactions that strengthen relationships, and the pursuit of meaning over happiness.

A recent showing of Rath’s documentary on campus at American University—where he helped launch our new Department of Health Studies—sparked discussions and ideas among students, professors, and others about how they can change the world around them. The movie provided powerful, inspiring examples of how actions that improve someone else’s life and that spur positive moments are connected to better mental and physical health.

Rath’s book and movie resonate with students and staff from the Health Promotion Management Program at American University, because his research helps validate what we have made our mission in life. While our areas of emphasis vary a great deal, the underlying goal that drives us also unites us: We are determined to help people, organizations, and communities change lifestyle behaviors to move toward a state of improved health.

Much like the science and art of health promotion that we learn and teach about daily, the type of work that Rath discovered during his research gives framework and definition to intangible concepts that we hold dear:

  • A church giving its members $500 to spend on others
  • A gardener planting vegetables in abandoned lots
  • A nonprofit helping thousands of low-income students go to college

To add remarkable credibility to his assertions, Rath turned to world-renowned experts in behavioral health, the psychology of spending, social networks, decision-making and behavioral economics, willpower and the role of meaning in the workplace. The result is a thought- and effort-provoking documentary that proves there are practical ways to energize your life.

These real-world success stories encourage our MS in health promotion management students to continue striving. At the moment, they are studying what they can do to make a difference in fields ranging from corporate health and personal nutrition to global health policy.

Soon, their ideas, goals, and hard work will yield “fully charged” personal lives, careers and surrounding communities—and we’ll all be better for it.


Are you ready to turn your passion for health and well-being into a world-changing career? Learn about our master’s degree in health promotion management from American University.


These Health Promotion Alumni Are Making A Difference With Their Degrees

The students in our health promotion management master’s program go on to do incredible things in areas including corporate health, exercise physiology, health communication, health policy, global health, and nutrition.

Here are a few examples of American University alumni who are applying their knowledge and passion to truly benefit the communities around them:


Kristen Cox (Class of 2008)

Title: Senior Director, Policy & Advocacy, Cancer Support Community

Kristen Cox left the health promotion management program with an understanding of health behaviors, the healthcare system, policy, and “hot topics” in the industry.

These bricks of her health promotion management education gave her a strong foundational starting point when building policy positions, white papers, and talking points were needed.

In her current role as senior director of policy and advocacy for the Cancer Support Community, Kristen works to support people living with cancer, as well as their families. Her work is promoting health—in a powerful way—by:

  • Convening experts in the cancer field to come to consensus on timely topics
  • Advocating for increased access to cancer care, pain management, and hospice and palliative care
  • Raising awareness about cancer prevention


Abigail Walsh (Class of 2014)

Title: Wellness Program Analyst, Bon Secours Health Systems

From developing stages of change within programs, to learning about the new national and local healthcare policies, Abigail Walsh puts theory—and her training from AU’s master’s program—into practice on a daily basis.

Bon Secours, a nonprofit healthcare system in Virginia, has been a great place for Abigail to utilize the communication concepts she learned in the Health Promotion Management Program. Having professors at AU with extensive experience in the health promotion field helped smooth the transition from studies to “real-world” work, she said.

“There is only so much you can learn from a textbook. Having professors with real life experience enables us to see the paths that others have traveled,” Abigail stated. The graduate program work was important because every single class, research paper, and task was directly related to a topic she likely would encounter in her upcoming career.

Now, right in the middle of that “real world” work, Abigail is ardently trying to move the needle on health risk factors that employees across Virginia encounter. As she helps people manage pre-existing conditions, she also keeps preventive healthcare measures at the forefront of her efforts.

“The total savings for the employee and the employer are incredible. Plus, there are some things that can’t be measured on a monetary scale, such as a longer life with an improved quality of living and an increase in productivity at work.”


Brian Katzowitz (Class of 2011)

Title: Health Communications Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As a health communications specialist at the CDC, Brian Katzowitz’s background in health promotion management enables him to consider the principles of behavior change theory when determining communication strategies. He uses his health promotion training to interpret scientific manuscripts and translate complex data into relevant information for consumers.

Brian’s job isn’t the run-of-the-mill public relations gig. He fulfills an integral role in public health initiatives.

“On a day-to-day basis, the outcome of my work can be seen when traditional news outlet like the Washington Post or New York Times publish stories featuring CDC spokespeople, new research, or information on disease outbreaks,” Brian said.


Laurie DiRosa (Class of 2000)

Title: Assistant Professor, Rowan University

Laurie DiRosa, a professor of health promotion and wellness, prepares students to go forth and change lifestyle behaviors throughout the world.

Specifically, going through the thesis process at American University continues to influence how Laurie mentors and guides her own students—both undergrads and graduate students—in their research and capstone projects.

“I still pull out my textbooks from AU when I’m helping students or preparing for classes,” Laurie said. “I feel that the rigorous program at AU was one of the guiding forces for me to continue on to doctoral studies.”


Ready to influence healthy lifestyle behaviors?

Learn more about how a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University can help you impact the world and change health behaviors.


Students Learn From Health Promotion Leaders at HERO Forum

Three students at a conferenceConferences come and go. There are thousands of them every year. However, for our students who are attending the annual Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Forum on Employee Health Management Solutions on Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, it’s not “just another conference.”

For the American University students who are pursuing an MS in Health Promotion Management, the HERO Forum is a rare chance to hear from the type of world-changers they themselves are striving to become—the type of professionals who are helping communities change lifestyle behaviors toward a state of improved health.

In other words, our students view this as part of their life’s work, not just a place to view PowerPoint presentations and nab a few business cards.

AU student Katherine Richards is most excited about the keynote address, “How we are Building a Culture of Health in America.” It will cover the many inter-related factors involved in health and well-being, including “where we live, how we work, the soundness and safety of our surroundings, and the strength and resilience of our families, our communities, and our economy,” according to the event website.

Two students at a confernce“I am anxious to learn how different industries and companies are contributing to create a culture that is centered on wellness,” said Katherine, whose classmate Mara Metroka is particularly interested in a talk by Tanya Gilbert titled “A Health Promotion Consultant on Improving Mental Strength to Promote Weight Loss.”

“I am very passionate about positive self talk and the power of ‘change your mind, change your life,’ so I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say!” Mara said.

Many of the topics Katherine and Mara will be engaged in are quite similar to what they find daily in their AU master’s program in health promotion management. For instance, both the program and the HERO event are fully focused on how various aspects of healthy lifestyle efforts work in unison to create a culture of wellness. Employee health is just one of the many components—but an important one, Katherine said.

“Employers have a wonderful opportunity to encourage their employees and employees’ families to live healthy lives. As a result, both the employee and the employer benefit,” Katherine said. Other key aspects of improved health and well-being include exercise physiology, human biochemistry, behavioral psychology, global health, and nutrition.

HERO’s message of health and performance through employer leadership resonates with Mara, who once spent an overworked, exhausting year working in the hospitality industry.

“The employees I was managing were often sick, or unhealthy—not performing at their top level,” Mara said. “Through this experience I realized the need for a healthy work life balance, and how in so many corporations it is lacking. I want to change that.”

Two students at a conferenceIt would not be unprecedented for an AU graduate program student to make that type of difference. For example, Jennifer Flynn (MS ’97), an AU grad and a HERO Forum speaker this year, is a strategy consultant for Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions. She went from writing papers to literally helping save lives.

Katherine, Mara, and their peers are making their own strides toward such world-focused success. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s coming. Their presence will be felt. Health and well-being across this world will be revolutionized.



Are you interested a master’s degree in health promotion management? Learn more about the MS program at American University.

Healthy Living Research

Research Shows Link Between Health and Successful Learning

From preschoolers picking out colored pencils to graduate students upgrading their old laptops, back-to-school shopping remains in full swing.

Written by Dr. Anastasia Snelling

It’s an exciting time of year, with plenty of fun items to purchase. It’s also a great opportunity for parents—and students of all ages—to place healthy lunch items and a comfortable pair of shoes for exercise atop their shopping list.

Why is it so important? Long gone is the notion that eating poorly only affects us from the waist down. Now, it’s quite clear—based on both data and anecdotal evidence—that health and learning are intimately linked.

Even with the knowledge that healthy children are better students, we need more student-level research to address the relationship between obesity and learning. It’s an urgent concern for researchers, policymakers, teachers, children, families, and health promotion professionals.

Fortunately, there are encouraging signs that health’s relationship to education is beginning to receive the attention it deserves.


Wellness Policies

Federal legislation that was enacted more than a decade ago has led to relatively new wellness policies—mostly about curbing obesity—at schools throughout the US. The challenge is that the nuances of these policies and their results widely vary. Factors such as nutrition value of cafeteria meals, amount of time devoted to physical education, and cultivation of health-enhancing environments for teachers and students are different at virtually every school.

What is lacking is a deep understanding of the effects of school-by-school health policies at the student level. The more often and thoroughly that we can compare the health consequences of various lifestyles, the better.


Change on the Menu

Lunch hour is being revamped, too. The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act upgraded nutrition and monitoring standards that are part of the USDA School Lunch Program. Schools are striving to comply by providing new meals that are both tasty and healthy, but parents and students will take some convincing.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service is poised to do just that, particularly through funding for “behavioral economics” studies. The most recent report, released in August, revealed that while the majority of principals and foodservice managers who responded agreed that “Students generally seem to like the new school lunch,” the participation rate for paid school lunches has been on the decline since FY 2008.

It’s a frustrating divide, but it’s not insurmountable. At schools in Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, DC, our research has shown that by engaging students in selecting how vegetables are prepared or pairing a fruit and vegetable, we can increase the consumption of healthful foods.

These are all important findings to consider, but we must be vigilant with continued research and response. The work has only just begun.


Strong Muscles, Thriving Minds

The playground presents another important opportunity to address the whole child—from physical and mental health to academic performance. The recent push by everyone from First Lady Michelle Obama to professional football players to ramp up physical education time among children isn’t just about strong muscles. It’s about healthy, thriving minds.

Now it’s our task to put clear numbers behind those well-known faces. Fortunately, the body of research linking PE time and well-being is growing.

It’s increasingly evident that time is a key factor. In a study titled “Evidence based physical activity for school-age youth” in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers reviewed more than 850 experimental studies and concluded that additional physical education boosts academic performance, physical fitness level, concentration, memory, classroom behavior, and intellectual performance.

Our own study found a higher rate of math proficiency on Washington, DC’s standardized tests by elementary schools that offer nearly 90 minutes of PE per week. That’s powerful data, and it begs this question: How far could we move the needle if more schools were to increase the amount of gym time?

The good news: There is a sizable appetite for new research on health and student performance and vigilant advocacy to improve the way we serve children.


Interested in a career in health promotion management?

The more passionate health promotion management professionals we can train to lead the way, the better individuals and families will be positioned to thrive for years to come.

Want to get involved in the conversation and make a difference in health and wellness on a larger scale? Learn more about the Health Promotion Management Program at American University.


About The Author


Dr. Anastasia Snelling is a professor and chair of the Department of Health Studies at American University. Her research aims to understand the impact of food policy and programs on health and weight status of students and teachers in the school environment.



6 Cool Health Promotion Organizations You Should Know About

Our students in American University’s master’s degree in health promotion management have a unique opportunity. While learning about the art and science of health promotion from esteemed experts in the field, students also can reap all the resume-building benefits of living in the nation’s capital.

Washington, DC, is awash in meaningful, effective nonprofits that choose true impact over lip service. From internships to volunteerism and full-time job opportunities, AU health promotion graduate students should be aware of these six DC nonprofits that are improving health in this region and way beyond:


Partnership for a Healthy America

Based in DC, Partnership for a Healthier America is leveraging the power of private partners to make healthier choices more affordable and accessible to families and children across the country. Leaders such as Michele Obama, companies such as Nike and Dannon, and nonprofits such as YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs of America lend exceptional credibility to the organization.

The work is vast and wide-ranging. For example, American University (AU) joined 25 other campuses and PHA for the Healthier Campus Initiative. These schools are adopting new guidelines around nutrition, physical activity and programming for students and staff.


DC Greens & FoodPrints

Dr. Stacey Snelling, director of AU’s Health Promotion Program, works with DC Greens and FoodPrints to infuse six DC-area public schools with fresh fruits and vegetables into school systems.

Actually, it’s a two-pronged approach. DC Greens supplies the food while FoodPrints integrates gardening, cooking, and nutrition education into the curriculum.

The reach of each of these small but substantive organizations goes far beyond this school program—and both have plenty of room for volunteers and interns alike.


A Wider Circle

Mark Bergel, who earned an MS in health promotion management from American University, received the prestigious CNN Hero Award in 2014 for starting A Wider Circle in 2001. The mission is simple but powerful: “to end poverty for one individual and one family after another.” Through various community programs, A Wider Circle provides basic need items, education, and long-term support.

A Wider Circle also is a great source of health promotion internship and job opportunities—for students intrigued by bold, committed work.


National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health, which launched more than 30 years ago, comprises mostly Fortune 500 companies with a clear focus: Provide and promote practical solutions to companies’ most important health care problems.

These companies believe controlling health care costs and improving patient safety and quality of care helps the whole world, not just a few select industries or a certain demographic. They fully understand that health and wellness are vital for individuals, communities and society.


Center for Science in the Public Interest

For more than 40 years, CSPI has been using science and data to advocate for key health-related efforts at the national level—for instance, issues such as soda consumption and the unhealthiness of “kids meals.”

In 2013, CSPI demonstrated that 97 percent of restaurant children’s meals are unhealthy. That alarming statistic led to a campaign urging eateries to improve the nutrition value of these meals and to stop marketing unhealthy food to children.

The Washington, DC, area features some of the most effective health promotion organizations in the US. These groups, which help keep critical needs at the forefront, also serve as abundant learning tools for the health promotion management students at American University.

“The opportunity for research, internships, and hands-on experience that is connected with this graduate program is unmatched,” said Annessa Bontrager, a 2015 MS graduate who already has begun full-time work at Partnership for a Healthy America. The professors in the Health Promotion Management Program have a genuine desire to positively impact the surrounding community, and that is infectious.”

Interested in helping or working for organizations like these?

Read more blog posts and learn how the Health Promotion Management Program at American University prepares students to make a difference.

Wellness and Health Benefits Fair, Dec. 01

Health Promotion Managers Change the World

For many, the components are all there. Deep devotion to health and well-being. Innovative ideas for improving the system. Clear goals rooted in firm ideals.

For people who pursue careers in health promotion management, it takes all these factors together, working in unison, to make a significant difference in the world.

Health promotion management is the convergence of it all. It’s the business, science, and art of helping individuals, communities, and society be healthier.

There are hundreds of backgrounds and experiences that lead people into health promotion management careers. They’re so different, but there’s also a common thread: passion.

Triumph Through Challenge

Passion is evident in the woman who grew up suffering from a disease that forced her to embrace a carefully constructed, health-conscious diet. Now she’s made it her mission to inform people about the relationship between diet, exercise, genetics and chronic illness. She wants to improve lifestyle behaviors for people from all socioeconomic sections of life.

From the Inside Out

It’s easy to see the passion in those who have organizational change in mind. You know the type: wellness cheerleaders who understand that entire companies can improve their employees’ lives through simple, yet powerful, options.

These are the experts who begin change within companies—often starting a decades-long commitment to employee health. The result can be dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of people with better habits and lower risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and diabetes.

Active Business Acumen

Passion drives the guy who struggled with self-confidence until late high school, when he began working out at the local gym. He knows the emotional and health benefits of staying active, and he wants to encourage others to join him. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business, he’s looking to merge his fitness acumen with his professional training.

Shifting Governmental Policies

Helping one person, family or company at a time is much needed, but some people envision and reach toward something broader. They are eager to turn their lofty ideals into prudent, efficient governmental policies and international programs. They realize it will be a long road, but they’re eager to start the journey.

These different types of future leaders are passionate about health promotion because they understand its long-term importance. In other words, they know that health affects everything from a fifth-grader’s academic performance to a Third World country’s economic stability to an elderly person’s quality of life.

Beyond passion, the reason health promotion managers are so well suited to lead the personal health responsibility revolution is that they are so well trained. They are specialists who can implement knowledge from exercise physiology and to behavioral psychology and nutrition.

For many college students, their major or area of emphasis means little more than a ticket to a diploma and a black robe. But for those who pursue a master’s degree in health promotion management, their field of study has potential to shape their lives—and many, many others—every single day.

Interested in American University’s MS in health promotion management program? Learn more today!