Terence Gipson works as a research coordinator for the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Gipson was able to continue his work in Central and South America, all while completing his master of public health degree at MSU.
July 26, 2019
Why did you pursue a career in public health?
A: Everything that we do as human beings is somehow related to public health, which, as a profession, focuses on the conditions that shape the human experience. Every part of our lives impacts our health in some way whether it's the career we choose, the schools we attend, the neighborhood we live in, or simply the amount of time we watch television. I decided to become a public health professional to understand better how the intersections between our behaviors, environments, and policies affect our health outcomes. It is incredibly important to me that this knowledge is translated into effective community-based interventions designed to improve conditions within our most vulnerable communities.
What does a Research Coordinator do?
A: This is arguably the hardest question I have to answer every day because I often wear many hats. I currently coordinate an interdisciplinary team of health professionals and scholars throughout Oklahoma who primarily serve children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. My job is to oversee our research efforts, including grant proposals, data, and evaluation. I am also a Ph.D. candidate and research fellow, which encompasses other exciting roles, including teaching and conducting independent research.
Share statistics or an example that demonstrates the importance of your work in public health?
A: Individuals with developmental disabilities have dramatically higher rates of chronic conditions than typically developing persons. Among those with intellectual/cognitive disabilities, they are five times more likely to develop diabetes throughout their lives, three times more likely to develop arthritis, and two times more likely to have cardiovascular disease and asthma. Adolescents with particularly debilitating conditions are more likely to develop comorbidities that result in reduced mobility, functioning, and quality of life, thus in turn, restricting participation in various life situations. Therefore, much of my work focuses on early interventions for youth with developmental disabilities to build capacity, enhance the provision of service delivery, and improve the overall quality of life among the children and their families.
What accomplishment are you most proud?
A: I have been fortunate enough to have achieved success on a multitude of community-based projects throughout the world, but perhaps none more satisfying than being able to open our maternal and child health clinic in Cusco, Peru in 2016. After years of planning, we were able to work with local community leaders, Peru's Ministry of Health, and researchers to expand health services in Cusco to women and children.
Have you received any awards or honors?
A: This year I received the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship administered by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and was awarded Honors in Health Sciences Leadership by the state of Oklahoma.
While completing my Master of Public Health, I was grateful to have been awarded the International Public Health Research Fellowship, Outstanding Student Service Award, Newman Civic Fellowship Award, Heart & Soul Award, and Community Partner Award for contributions to public health.
Why did you choose MSU to pursue your Master of Public Health?
A: Nothing can compare to the convenience of having an online curriculum while also receiving high-quality public health education. I was able to continue my work in Central and South America, all while completing my MPH at MSU. The program's flexibility allowed me to not only finish within two years, but I was also able to integrate my professional work with the practicum requirements.
What do you want current MPH students to know?
A: If I could give any words of wisdom, it would be to build strong relationships with your faculty advisors and mentors. MSU has outstanding faculty who are on the frontlines of some of the most innovative research and public health practice in the country. Their experience and expertise are invaluable, so please don't hesitate to reach out and learn from their guidance. I wished I had done that more while I was a student, but I am incredibly grateful for the relationships I was able to build in my short time there. It was because of their leadership and advice that I was able to continue my education at the doctoral level.
Anything else you would like to add?
A: I am thrilled to hear about the amazing strides the program has made over the years!* My immense gratitude to the Division of Public Health staff and faculty for their efforts in increasing MSU's profile in the public health arena.
*Learn about some of the amazing strides by reading MSU’s public health application for accreditation news.
Terence Gipson, CHM MPH ‘17
Spartan in Public Health