Christopher Russo worked as a Clinical Researcher studying Alzheimer’s and dementia in older adults. With the goal of protecting the health of the general public and focusing on emergency preparedness, Russo decided to pursue a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology online at the University of Georgia.
In his decision to learn more about disaster management, Russo said the online certificate program has been extremely useful. The certificate also taught him about the challenges this vulnerable population experiences.
The certificate program provides students with the formal training necessary to expand their existing professional skillset and amplify their career opportunities. Through the program, students will also gain knowledge on how to improve the lives of older adults.
The virtual education experience best suited Russo’s lifestyle. It was particularly helpful since he lived off-campus and without a vehicle. He also applauded the flexibility and understanding of his professors within the program.
“The professors were great at ensuring office hours were available and even established a weekly workshop for students to present their current research and allowed for feedback from their peers,” Russo said.
Russo’s advice to students is to take advantage of the online resources, such as office hours and workshops, at their disposal. While online learning is at your own pace, your success is largely dependent on your work ethic, Russo said.
“You get whatever you put into the courses. And, yes, the professors can see if you actually watched the lecture,” Russo said.
The skills and knowledge he gained in the graduate certificate translated well into his work with the Ohio Department of Health and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency’s primary function is to coordinate activities to mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
“My future plans are to continue to work in the field of public health emergency preparedness and protect the health of the general public, especially populations that are at greater risk like the older adults that I studied while at the University of Georgia,” Russo said.