Tho (Trixie) Nguyen, MPH ’20, is a data analyst for AdventHealth University. In 2017, she moved from Vietnam to Corvallis, Oregon, to pursue her MPH in biostatistics. During the program, she interned at Benton County Health Department, where she synthesized and analyzed the county’s inspection health data to generate the first interactive dashboard for official and public use.
We caught up with Tho to learn more about why she chose to pursue an MPH and what she is up to now.
Why did you choose Oregon State for your MPH in biostatistics?
After graduating from medical school, I found myself in the intersection between clinical practice and research. And since high school, I’ve always had an interest in solving problems like math, puzzles, etc. Choosing the MPH in biostatistics allowed me to combine biomedical science, mathematics and statistics.
Another reason is that biostatistics is always on the list of the top master’s degrees for job prospects.
I choose Oregon State University to pursue my master’s degree in biostatistics because of the state’s environmental beauty and the school’s prestige. With Corvallis being one of the safest college towns in the U.S. and OSU having an accredited MPH program with many options, I knew OSU was the right choice for me.
How did your experience at Oregon State prepare you for what you do now?
I learned a lot in terms of knowledge and experience while at OSU. My experience with statistical software such as R and SAS has helped me tremendously while looking for jobs and with what I am doing now. I also developed my critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are crucial to being a biostatistician.
What do you love about being a data analyst at AdventHealth University? What led you to this position?
We moved to Orlando, Florida, after my husband got accepted to the residency program at AdventHealth Medical Group. At the same time, they were looking for a biostatistician at the hospital, so I applied and got the job. I transferred to the university a few months later and found myself in a perfect position.
As data analyst, I am able to utilize my statistical knowledge to help faculty and students with their research analysis. A new area for me and my other main responsibility is program assessment, which has come with a learning curve.
I love that my contributions, though behind the scenes, add to the culture of improvement that we are building at AHU.
What difference do you hope to make in people’s health and well-being?
With the fields of public health and medicine progressing quickly, I hope that what I am doing behind the scenes is a step forward and has some impact in applying innovative technology in people’s health and well-being.
There are so many areas to discover. If you have the desire to learn and to make real life changes, biostatistics is right for you.
Do you have any advice for students considering or currently enrolled in OSU’s MPH program?
I encourage them to speak with an MPH ambassador, your track of interest’s program coordinator or current MPH students as soon as possible to have a firm picture of what to expect.
I moved to Corvallis from a metropolitan area, so I think students with the same background might experience some adjustments to living in a small college town with less entertainment. However, being part of a community or group who share similar interests, lifestyle or culture will benefit you – especially your mental health – a lot.
Try to get a lot of hands-on experiences and be prepared to face real-world problems because not everything is as clear-cut as in textbooks, especially in biostatistics/statistics. There will be many times that you doubt your results.
Make some connections outside of the field, and most importantly, enjoy your time as a grad student.
Learn more about Oregon State’s MPH in biostatistics.