Diane Dong


Track: Applied Epidemiology

What is your professional background and where do you currently work?

I was in my 10th year working as a program analyst at the Center for Medication Safety, Department of Veterans Affairs when I finally made the decision to enroll in Rollins’ EMPH program.

It was not an easy decision because I knew it was going to be hard to juggle full-time work, family life, and school. Of course, cost is also an issue since I had to pay for the whole thing by myself. I kept asking myself: Is it going to be worth it? Can I do this? At the same time, I clearly knew that if I wanted to take my career up several notches. I needed to get this done.

Why did you enroll in the Executive MPH (EMPH) program?

Although I was considered a superb analyst, I didn't see myself as just a number cruncher for the rest of my life. I like numbers, but I'm more interested in knowing the hows and whys behind those numbers. I like to be part of the "design team" of a study.

As my job duties gradually shifted to those of team leader, and I became more involved in translating requests from our clinicians into an actual project (for example, assessing GI bleeding among patients taking warfarin), I realized that my previous education/work experience was not sufficient anymore.

That's when I made the final push to get myself enrolled in the EMPH program.

Thinking back, this has truly been the best education decision that I made for myself. Ever since the first semester, I just felt epidemiology was my calling. I have learned so much from all of my professors, as well as my fellow classmates.

Another advantage of coming to Emory is its close relationship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC). The varieties of public health activities, as well as abundance of experts available at CDC are phenomenal.

What is the most valuable skill you learned during the EMPH program?

The most valuable skills that I have learned are critical thinking and collaborative teamwork.

What advice do you wish someone had given you prior to enrollment?

Not to beat myself up on an A-! It took me a while to realize what I have learned outweighs the scores.