Recently, several ColoradoSPH at CSU MPH students presented their capstone projects to an online audience. Highlighted here are projects completed by Katie and Sierra, two students who will also be graduating soon.

Katie presenting her capstone

Katie Wildgen, an MPH student concentrating in Animals, People, and the Environment, is set to graduate in Fall 2021. Her capstone project was with CSU Extension and related to Workforce Capacity and Health Program Evaluation. Her role was not only a student and team member, but she also partook in survey development, data organization, and analysis.

Katie chose to work with CSU Extension because of their expansive network of opportunities. The platform and the reach throughout the state, science-based educational opportunities, and its core concept were some things that interested Katie.

“[CSU Extension has] many different topic areas of expertise, teamwork and collaborative approach which aligns with my future endeavors.”

When asked what classes helped Katie with her experience, she responded,

“A variety of courses helped. Environmental Public Health and Policy, Food Systems, One Health, Technology Based Health Promotion, to name a few.”

Katie believes that she was able to apply different skill sets like virtual communication, teamwork, networking, and adaptation to change, which led to  a successful capstone. She believes that this will help her within her future public health career.

Moving forward, Katie’s advice for students who are getting close to completing their capstone is,

“Ask questions, be proactive and attentive, meet as many people as you can, you never know when a job opportunity may show up. You’re learning and will make mistakes but learn from them and adapt.”

Sierra Kerns-Funk, an MPH student with an Epidemiology concentration planning to graduate in Spring 2022, completed her capstone with the Health District of Northern Larimer County. Her role was as an intern on the Evaluation Team, and she worked with several data sets using survey data as well as assisting in data entry, to assess financial barriers to mental health care.

Sierra presenting her capstone

Sierra wanted to work with this organization because the opportunity was focused on data analysis, data visualization, and program evaluation. She sought this out as a good opportunity to gain experience to help with her future public health career.

“I hope to have a career in data analysis/epidemiology and my capstone experience reinforced what I have learned in the classroom and applied it in a real-world situation. This capstone also helped me gain experience communicating in a variety of different ways because we created a poster, abstract, presentation, and paper.”

Sierra believes that through different classes, like Research Methods, Biostatistics, and Epidemiology, she had found the most success.

“This role relied a lot on Epidemiology and Biostatistics methods to analyze data and create visualizations.”

In terms of advice, Sierra believes that utilizing your resources will help students be most successful.

“Be sure to attend the capstone practice sessions if you can. It was very helpful when preparing for the presentation and asking faculty advisors questions.”

Through the MPH program, ColoradoSPH students are contributing to local organizations, and utilizing the knowledge from their classes. Each semester, we are incredibly impressed with the projects that our students complete and they continue to raise the program to the next level.


Written by: Erica J Carter