Morgan Witzel - MPH Student


Where is your hometown? Billings, Montana


What’s your education background? Degrees, Universities attended:

Boise State University

B.S. Health Education and Promotion


What program are you enrolled in at UM? Master of Public Health


How long have you been attending the University of Montana and the SPCHS? I began the MPH program in the fall of 2015. 


What has your previous educational background done to prepare you for your current degree?

The Health Education and Promotion program at Boise State University was interdisciplinary, giving me a foundation of knowledge and hands-on experience in the areas of kinesiology, business, and psychology. Overall, my time at BSU helped me improve my time management skills which allowed me to strike a balance between school, work, sports, and my personal relationships, which was not always an easy feat.


Did you always know you wanted to pursue this degree? Do you remember when you were inspired to pursue furthering your education?

I always knew that I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in the health field, but it wasn’t until I started working in public health that I was certain the MPH degree was right for me. My bachelor’s degree was mostly focused on personal health, and I wanted to understand the bigger picture of health and how it operates as a system and influences personal health. The MPH program seemed like it could connect the dots between my prior knowledge and current interests.


If you give your 18-year-old-self one piece of advice about pursuing a college degree, what would it be?

Be intentional with your education; it is what you make of it. Connect with people in your field of interest and your classmates, you never know where those connections will take you. Also, it’s okay to fail a class, or change your major three times, or fail a class again – it’s all a part of the process.


What’s your favorite aspect of your involvement as a student (and researcher) at University of Montana?

My favorite aspect as a student is learning from my classmates’ different perspectives. I’m always interested to see how each person relates to the course information based on their experiences. It has opened my eyes to how public health can be applied to a variety of career paths.


What is the most challenging aspect of your degree program and how do you find the positives in it?

For me, the most challenging aspect was getting back into the rhythm of schoolwork when I started the program. While I consider myself to be a good student, the 4-year break between my undergraduate degree and master’s degree left me feeling “rusty”. Setting a schedule for myself to manage the requirements and deadlines of multiple classes helped me focus and better prioritize my tasks, which is a valuable lifelong skill.


Since starting this degree program at UM, what has surprised you the most?

I must admit, I initially held off on applying to the MPH program because I was intimidated; I wasn’t sure if I could handle taking graduate-level classes while working full-time and balancing life. Also, I am typically more comfortable learning in a classroom setting and was hesitant about enrolling in an online program. My time at UM has surprised me because not only is taking classes completely manageable, I have thrived with the online learning style, perhaps more so than in a traditional classroom setting.


When you’re not doing field work, researching, or attending classes what’s your favorite activity/hobby?

I love cooking – trying new recipes in the kitchen is my happy place and it makes me feel like I’m somewhat creative. In the summertime I love camping with my husband and our families and friends, especially in Yellowstone Park. I also love reading, watching shows on Netflix, and cheering for the Bobcats (sorry).  


How have the faculty at UM, specifically SPCHS helped/supported you with your degree program?

Every interaction with the UM SPCHS faculty has been a positive one. I know I can reach out any time, about anything, and I will be well-supported. My advisor has helped me navigate the MPH program from the beginning and has been instrumental to my success in the program.


If a prospective student asked you about your time thus far at UM, what would you say?

I would tell prospective students that my experience at UM has been positive. Though I am taking classes online and have not yet been to the UM campus, distance learning has not compromised the quality of education I have received, and I feel connected to the SPCHS faculty and my classmates even though we are located around the state, country, and world.