May 11, 2011

I'm practically a Master!

Three years ago I started an endeavor to get a master's degree. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to get, or what school to get it from. I considered taking night classes locally... then I found out that WVU has a totally online Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree through their Health Sciences School of Community Medicine. I thought that sounded pretty sweet, because I was sortof doing public health already with my work with E. coli and water quality. I studied and took the GRE, applied to WVU, and the rest has all fallen into place.

I did well in my classes, I got a few classes for free as a sort of scholarship, and I was invited to be a student representative on the MPH Board. Throughout the first year of taking classes, I was still at my highest weight. At some point though I realized that I couldn't keep living in a way that is in such contrast with what I was learning. I was taking "Worksite Wellness," learning how to develop a program to keep people healthy at work, and I was like 100 pounds overweight.

Being in the MPH program was one of the factors that helped me decided to start living a healthier lifestyle. I've lost 65 pounds since then, and have run in six 5ks. I've changed forever the way that I think about food, and although I still indulge when I really want to, I always remember that everything counts, food is fuel, and exercise feels GOOD.

After a very long, arduous semester, I am walking across a stage and receiving my Masters of Public Health degree on Sunday. My whole family (other than Beth and Andrew) will be there, we are going to party it up, and my kids will get to see me dress in a really weird costume and shake somebody's hand as I take a roll of parchment from them. They don't really understand what I've done, but they will know that it's important. They'll be proud of me someday.

The only thing left is to figure out how to delicately tell everyone at work and among my friends to call me Master Cooper from now on. Bryan and the kids can just call me Master. Yeah. It has a nice ring to it.


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