L-R: Gail Solod, Brian Prester, and Moses Mbehesa
The path to the career of your dreams is different for everyone. Sometimes the route is a swift, straight line; other times it’s a serpentine adventure with several twists and turns; still other times the road veers sharply in a brand-new direction you never expected.
For Gail Solod, Brian Prester, and Moses Mbehesa, their career journeys are as unique as they come. But the one commonality their stories share is that they each enrolled in a 2U-powered online graduate degree program in order to bring out their “best selves” and make their professional goals a reality.
From pivoting to a more impactful role in public health to establishing themselves as an independent social worker to strengthening their prowess as an entrepreneur, read on to learn how these three professionals' respective experiences at George Washington University, Simmons University, and the University of Dayton helped them forge successful and fulfilling careers.
Expanding Healthcare Access for All
While working in pharmaceutical sales, Gail Solod began seeing the impact of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement cuts across the healthcare industry and the serious implications for providers and patients. At the same time, political shifts threatened to impact women’s reproductive rights and contraceptive access. Stirred to action, Gail vowed to become an advocate for disadvantaged populations—especially women—who struggle to get equitable health care.
Enrolling in the George Washington University online Master of Public Health program (MPH@GW) was a natural next step to achieving that goal. “By far, two of the best years of my life were spent in this program because I absolutely love what I learned,” says Gail. “It was incredibly comprehensive.”
Today, Gail credits the MPH@GW program for enabling her to make the career pivot to become a regional public sector senior manager for a nonprofit, helping expand women’s access to medicine regardless of their socioeconomic status.
“From a success standpoint for me, it was really about contributing back to society—making sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive in our healthcare system,” says Gail of her goals for enrolling in the MPH@GW program. “I wanted to take everything I could possibly get out of the program because I want to understand why our current healthcare system is failing people and I want to make a difference. Having this Master of Public Health creates a much richer conversation with the clinics I work with. It enables me to understand their challenges and helps them to understand we're all in this together to serve their patients better.”
Gail now finds her career to be deeply rewarding. She works with health systems that serve low-income populations that usually have high maternal mortality rates and do not have access to effective contraception.“It’s a very concerning issue, and we knew that being able to incorporate an affordable IUD in these healthcare systems would have a direct impact on these communities,” she says. “That was one of those moments where I was like: Oh! This is where my work is going to be really impactful, where the rubber meets the road, as you’d say—where we're actually seeing how we create a difference for people.”
Pursuing a Passion for Social Work
Brian Prester was long attracted to advocacy and social justice, but he never thought he’d become a social worker—until he started seeing one himself. “I went through a lot of difficulties in adolescence,” he says. “I was on the brink of dropping out of high school, managing a serious illness, and facing a lot of the ups and downs that come with being a queer person of color.”
Eager to turn his life around, Brian enrolled in flight school. But it wasn’t long after becoming a flight instructor that he was ready for a career change. Speaking with a therapist extinguished all of Brian’s misconceptions about the social work profession, and he realized how strongly he identified with its values. “I thought to myself, I think there’s something for me here,” says Brian. “And that’s what set me on the path of social work.”
Brian enrolled in the SocialWork@Simmons program, which he says was “the perfect fit.” He found his calling while doing fieldwork during the program, providing court-ordered treatment to those afflicted by drug and alcohol addiction.
“I was new to the field and I had a lot of preconceived notions about the type of social worker I wanted to be and the type of clients I wanted to have,” says Brian. “Working in addiction treatment didn’t necessarily fit into my vision. I had apprehensions and judgments, but the experience opened up all that close-mindedness.”
Now, addiction treatment is one of Brian’s specialties. He’s a licensed, independent clinical social worker who works with a wide range of patients and impacts lives on a daily basis. “My skills and training from Simmons have allowed me to work and advocate for clients across demographics,” he says. Finally, his journey has come full circle—and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Becoming a Better Business Owner
In 2015, Moses Mbehesa co-founded The Conscious Connect, a nonprofit dedicated to children’s literacy and neighborhood development operating across southern Ohio.
“My job requires me to be a jack-of-all-trades, from managing volunteers to overseeing our finances, from developing programs to working with kids in schools, from writing grants to representing my organization at public events,” says Moses. The need to wear many hats inspired him to push his professional development further by pursuing a Master of Business Administration.
Moses believes the MBA@Dayton program has played a significant role in his entrepreneurial development. “Practically everything I’ve learned, from economics and accounting to communication and organizational structure, has been applicable to The Conscious Connect,” he says. “This experience has reassured me that I’m heading in the direction I’m supposed to be—and I practice these things every day to help me achieve ambitious goals.”
One of those ambitious goals was to start an investment group, which he launched last year. Next up, this lifelong learner plans to attend law school. “There are lots of things I hope to do with my life—and I’m confident that now I can make them happen,” says Moses.
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