Ericka Case is a first-year at UNC and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Health Leadership Program, class of 2020. She served in the Navy Nurse Corps and held jobs as an oncology/ hematology nurse, led a medical readiness department, and served as a clinic manager in primary care.
Matt Case is also a first-year at UNC in the Masters of Public Health, Health Care and Policy department as part of his residency in Occupational and Environment Medicine at Duke University. He has been active duty with the Navy since 2014. Before starting his residency, Matt was a flight surgeon stationed in South Carolina with the Marines.
What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in transitioning from military life to civilian life?
Ericka: The biggest difference is focusing on myself and how decisions affect my own future. In the military I had the opportunity to focus on a specific mission for the organization and my work contributed only to that mission. Now, I get to determine what that mission is, and make up the steps as I go to get there.
Matt: The day-to-day life of being a full-time student. Having different assignments spread out throughout the week from different courses requires a different kind of planning. While I was attached to an active squadron, there would often times be a singular project spread out over weeks to work on.
What is something you wish you had known before moving here?
Ericka: I wish I had known the close proximity of everything in this city.
Matt: How easy it was going to be to get around.
What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school?
Ericka: I learned how to be professional and strict with my time. While I think everyone in grad school has professionalism, the military taught me how to be professional from the very start, and how to expect that from others. I also learned how to stay on a strict timeline and how to manage my time with many deadlines at once.
Matt: Communication. Whether it’s over email, the telephone, or in person; I communicate better because of the Military.
What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?
Ericka: The program I’m currently enrolled in was very welcoming and made the decision very easy. I had a couple obstacles even considering the program because I started off as active duty and the timelines with classes seemed impossible. The program was willing to work with me and made it happen. I am truly lucky to be part of it.
Matt: UNC is one of the best public health programs in the world. I was excited that my residency at Duke partnered with UNC for the completion of the MPH requirement for my program. Besides the academics, I loved everything that the Triangle had to offer for location. There’s so much to do 7 days a week, there’s no reason to be bored or to stay at home (except for those evenings writing a paper).