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An Olympic Skier Sets Her Sights on Public Health

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Like most students, Ida Sargent finds going back to school a bit of a juggling act. But Ida is not your typical student. The U.S. Ski Team member is training for the 2018 Winter Olympics while pursuing a career in public health.

A student in UVM’s online Public Health Graduate Certificate Program, Ida plans to go on to earn a Master of Public Health in UVM’s online program. The Vermont native attended Burke Mountain Academy and graduated from Dartmouth in 2011 with a degree in biology and physiology.

We talked to Ida about her Nordic racing career and why she wants to work in public health.

How did you become interested in this particular career path?

As an elite athlete, I am very grateful for my health. Sports has given me the opportunity to be fit and strong, and I believe that good health is one of the most basic rights in life. It scares me to see the rising levels of childhood obesity, and the physical and mental burdens that it places on young children. I’m involved with several non-profit organizations that use sports and physical activity to build confidence, self-esteem, community values, and healthy habits. This is mostly volunteer work, but it has given me the opportunity to share the values and building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, which I believe is key to our future.

As an athlete, how to manage to find time to go back to school?

Online courses are my only option. I spend at least half the year on the road with training camps during the summer and fall. From November through March, I am traveling around the globe with the U.S. Ski Team and racing World Cups almost every weekend. I often will be in four or more countries in a single month, so being in an actual classroom would be impossible for me. While I have a busy schedule, it’s great to have some balance on the road and to take my brain off of skiing.

What are some of your favorite classes in the Public Health Program?

I’m loving my epidemiology class right now and can see myself getting more involved in that field. My favorite class as an undergrad was immunology, and there are strong connections between the two.

What are your career plans?

I’m not sure exactly where my post-athletic career will take me, but right now I’m leaning toward a career in epidemiology or something related to community and youth programming. Right now I’m just taking it one adventure at a time!

Why did you choose UVM?

I grew up in Barton and now live in Craftsbury. I’m a Vermonter through and through, and it’s a place that I care about deeply. I’m very excited that UVM offers such a strong Master of Public Health program. It’s great to connect with many professors, public health professionals, and students who also have strong ties to Vermont and our communities. These connections can help us all make a difference improving the health of our population.

Learn more about UVM’s Master of Public Health Program