Claire Boland

Graduated in May 2020 Claire Boland

You should choose WVU to study public health because it was the best education I have ever received. WVU sets up each and every one of its students to succeed.

What is your hometown?

Southbury, Conn.

What does public health mean to you?

Public health is a broad organization that focuses on many branches of health. The goal of public health is to improve health for each and every person in this country. We promote healthy behaviors, do research, rid health disparities, and try to prevent infectious disease and injury. Without public health, health related issues may repeat themselves.

When did you know that you wanted to study public health?

Before going to college, I went to a Discover WVU Day knowing I wanted to do something health science related. There were tabling events for each major WVU had to offer. That's when I met Janet Hunt and she introduced me to WVU's Public Health program. I was instantly sold and it ended up being one of my best life decisions.

Why did you choose WVU?

I fell in love with this campus when I was only in sixth grade. My sister, Molly Boland, graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s in physical education and a master’s in special education. Everyone knew I was going to WVU before I was accepted. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer!

Have any particular faculty members made an impact on you while at WVU?

Toni Morris made a huge impact on my experience at WVU. She shows how deeply she cares for her students, and is wonderful at teaching. She opened up many opportunities for us and I'm forever grateful.

What unique experiences have you had during your time at WVU?

During my experience at WVU, I ended my college career during a global pandemic. Pandemics were something our program talked about for years, and we knew at some point it would happen. Our wonderful teachers worked tirelessly to make sure we ended our senior year as smoothly as possible. I also was able to take the knowledge I have on pandemics and spread awareness to those who didn't see the seriousness of it.

Tell us about your field placement experience.

I worked with patient navigators in the population health division at WVU Medicine. They also worked in an office with nurse navigators, pharmacists and social workers. Every day, the patient navigators would contact patients to ensure they were okay, and able to take care of themselves. This includes lowering medication costs, making appointments or arranging transportation. The biggest lesson I learned was how valuable the role of a patient navigator is. Health is knowledge, and we can't assume people know exactly what they're going through and how to go through it. We are the helping hand for doctors who are too busy to do these duties. I felt I learned a lot, but the biggest skill I gained from my experience was confidence. Going into the real world and doing the job you studied the past four years was a little nerve wracking for me. My field placement showed me I picked the perfect program at an amazing school. I feel well prepared to take my skill set and knowledge into my future career.

What do you want to do after graduation? What is your ultimate career goal?

I will be starting a job with WVU Hospitals as a scribe. I'm excited to finally get my foot in the door with a full-time position. I start in May and couldn't be more excited. I would like to do that for a bit to gain more knowledge, then hopefully move onto a full-time patient navigator position. I have also thought about getting my master’s in social work because I have a passion for mental health.

What would you tell prospective students about WVU and the School of Public Health?

Public health was the best decision I made at WVU. Growing up I always wanted to do something in the health field, but didn't know exactly what. When I discovered Public Health was going to be a new major, I jumped right on board.

What do you think is the best tradition at WVU?

The best tradition at WVU is singing “Country Roads” with all my friends and family. There is nothing better than being surrounded by food and friends at a football tailgate singing the infamous song. Whenever I hear it, it brings me back to all the great memories I've made in Morgantown all of my life. That is a feeling I'll be able to treasure forever.

What are some activities you have been involved in at WVU?

One of my favorite activities I was involved in was Wellness WVU. They gave me many opportunities to get involved in community service and promoted healthy behaviors. They promoted smart drinking, safe sex, mental health, meditation and more! Each week on Wednesday we would get together and discuss a new topic. It was nice to belong to a club because it gave me an opportunity to find more friendly people outside my everyday life.

What advice would you give to your freshman self?

The advice I would give to my freshman self is that as long as you work hard, you have nothing to stress about. Stress is a natural reaction for most when it comes to school. I don't think I had to stress as much as I did because my efforts got me to exactly where I wanted to be.

Why should someone choose WVU to study public health?

You should choose WVU to study public health because it was the best education I have ever received. Each of my teachers taught me valuable information, even if it won't apply to my future career. Going into college I had no knowledge of health compared to what I know now. WVU sets up each and every one of its students to succeed.

What will you always remember from your time at WVU?

I will always remember the teachers who taught me everything I know today. I've made friends that I will have for life and unforgettable memories I'll treasure forever. I'll never forget the sports, the school spirit, and all the activities WVU planned for us. We have things such as FallFest, which is a welcoming concert WVU has for students for free. WVU has offered so many amazing things for students and it is truly an unforgettable experience.

What’s your favorite thing about WVU?

My favorite thing about WVU is the passion this state has for our school. The entire state bleeds gold and blue. The school spirit is unmatched and I've loved it since I was a little girl. I also always loved the beauty of the campus. You can't miss Woodburn! I love the setup of the campus and how big it is, yet easy to get around.

What are you looking forward to most after graduation?

After graduation I'm looking forward to beginning my professional life. I'm excited to learn new things when I start my scribe position at WVU Hospitals. I'm also eager to make new connections and friends throughout my future career with people who hold the same values as I do.

Who have been some of your biggest supporters during your college journey?

My biggest supporters are my parents. They were the ones who helped me find the Public Health program at WVU. Without them I may not have gone down this path. They've always been my number one fans and helped me whenever I struggled. My mom also works with healthcare, so I always have someone to discuss my studies with.