Student Spotlight: Amber Auger RDH, MPH – Public Health Program
Doors have flown open for Amber Auger since earning her MPH online at UNE. Growing up in a single parent family, Amber was taught from a young age to to value education. “My mom wanted me to get a great education so I wouldn’t have to work three jobs every day, like she did.” says Amber.
Amber took her mom’s advice to heart. It was at a very young age that Amber decided that dental hygiene would be the direction that she would take her career. She’d always been interested in dental health, and she later came to realize that choosing that career came with the added benefits of great pay and a flexible schedule.
For her undergraduate education, Amber attended the University of New Haven and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Her original plan was to use her dental hygiene degree to work her way through dental school, but upon completion of her BS, she decided to take a year off and do some international travel instead.
Amber found an international humanitarian program and traveled to Romania on a medical mission to provide dental services to one of the many underserved communities there.
Working in Romania, Amber discovered a deep interest in helping people. Along with providing dental services, Amber also empowered the community to make positive health decisions. And during the experience, she said she’s never felt so alive.
Subsequently Amber visited Kenya, providing similar services to underserved communities there. She says it was a phenomenal experience, and her desire to help people on a large scale is what prompted her decision to go into public health.
Combining Dental Hygiene with Public Health
A practicing Dental Hygienist with a Master’s Degree in Public Health is a relatively rare career path, but to Amber, it felt like the natural direction to take in order to combine her chosen career with her strong desire to help people on a global scale.
How Amber chose UNE Online for her MPH
Amber initially found the MPH program online through a simple Google search. Being in the Dental Hygiene industry, she already knew of the University of New England from its great reputation for their dental hygiene school, so when the search turned up an online Master of Public Health at UNE, it piqued her interest. When she looked into the program further, the cost of taking our online public health classes was also attractive.
Flexibility and and a personal connection were key
The flexibility of the online MPH program allowed Amber to work full time, and pay for each class as she took it. Her experience was so positive, that not a day goes by that she does not recommend UNE. “My professors cared about me and got know me,” says Amber.
The biggest challenges with completing a program 100% online
Amber has always been someone who has worked multiple jobs and juggled multiple schedules, but she still found that building a structure and setting up accountability for herself was her biggest challenge. She found that the flexibility of the program was both its biggest asset and biggest hurdle. Without accountability built in by way of specific class meeting times, Amber found that to be successful she had to be self motivated.
Setting up accountability
Amber made what she calls her “virtual friend,” a person with whom she instantly bonded from the very beginning of classes. They became each other’s accountability buddy, studying together over Skype and supporting each other through topics that the other found challenging. Even after graduation they still have never met in person, but they do talk about meeting; “One day I will bear hug her!” Amber says.
The completion an MPH supports long term goals
With her Bachelor’s in dental hygiene Amber was able to teach students even as an undergraduate – but only on the care side in the lab. Now, having earned her MPH, she has improved her long term career outlook. She’s now able to get jobs outside of the clinical aspect of the industry, and provide continuing education inside the classroom to other hygienists.
Getting her MPH, Amber feels, has also given her more gravitas and has been a key differentiator in what is a predominantly older field. Most of her colleagues have 20 or more years of clinical experience in their practices, and so, having her MPH makes her more credible, and she feels that her opinions are more valued.
Current professional outlook
Currently, Amber fills many professional roles. In addition to being a clinical hygienist, she also teaches Radiology at Mount Ida College, serves as Chief of Clinical Technology for Jameson Management, specializes in transformational coaching, and as a consultant, she specializes in transforming dental practices – helping improve their periodontal protocols to empower hygienists, assistants, and dentists to work together as a cohesive team.
She is also able to pursue her dream of working in public health by speaking at Universities and industry events, and being a contributing author for for industry magazines such as RDH Magazine and DentistryIQ, two of the most well-regarded dental resources in the industry, writing on a wide-variety of dental and health topics.
If you couldn’t tell, Amber is an industrious individual and extremely passionate about what she does. And having her MPH has presented her with wonderful new and diverse opportunities.
Amber’s words of advice for current students
As a successful graduate of UNE’s online MPH program, Amber has some words of advice to students and potential public health students – to achieve success:
- Plan ahead in order to maintain a balance, work school and play.
- Schedule your time and stay true to it.
- Be diligent by keeping yourself accountable – enlist spouse, friend, peer in program.
- Take time to find out how you best learn. Seek help if you need to improve your learning skills.
Amber believes that it was completely worth the sacrifice to complete the online program, and she wouldn’t change it for the world. “Words cannot express my love for the UNE Public Health Graduate program, even though I never stepped on campus.”
For more information on getting your MPH online at UNE – go to online.une.edu/public-health