After graduating from the Colorado School of Public Health, new health professionals emerge into the workforce finding avenues to cultivate their unique interests and passions. A fall 2016 graduate, Xandy Peterson found her passion in epidemiology; combining her experience in microbiology, anthropology, and French culture. Xandy is currently working as a Cross-Cutting Epidemiologist at the Arizona Department of Health Services. In the short time she has served in this role, Xandy has worked on varying projects related to Valley Fever, laboratory surveillance, education outreach, and data analysis. “I am constantly learning new skills from my job and my coworkers. Every single day brings something new and exciting in the world of infectious disease and public health,” she says.

During her time in the ColoradoSPH at CSU, Xandy capitalized on epidemiological opportunities available in the local community. Completing a practicum with an Infection Preventionist at Medical Center of the Rockies, and a capstone at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center, she was able to garner a diverse practice-based learning experience. From her practicum, Xandy learned about how hospitals report disease, place patients in isolation, and complete surveillance for hospital acquired infections. Her capstone project combined skills in microbiology and public health, in the examination of wastewater treatment plants and their role in the spread of antimicrobial resistance to wildlife. “I am glad I chose to complete my practicum and capstone at different organizations as I believe this allowed me to acquire a greater diversity of skills than if I had remained at one organization for both,” said Xandy.

MPH coursework had a central role in the refinement of Xandy’s epidemiological skill and understanding. “My favorite courses were my epidemiology courses; Epidemiolgic Methods, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology…these courses taught me skills that were instrumental in my later success and were also fascinating!” she said.

Going forward in her career, Xandy aspires to continually work as an epidemiologist, expanding and growing her skillset. Some advice to incoming MPH students? Xandy recommends, “Have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff – it all works out in the end, even if it’s in ways that you don’t expect!”