Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
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If you were sitting on a plane: Q&A with alum Connor Martz

Connor Martz smiling and dressed in regalia. Connor is smiling at the camera and standing in the center of a walkway surrounded by trees.

Connor Martz graduated from the Community & Nonprofit Leadership [CNPL] program in 2016 and went on to earn a PhD at Auburn University, his dissertation – “Biopyschosocial Mechanisms of Lupus Progression among Black Women.”  Before he heads to the University of Texas-Austin to begin a highly competitive -and coveted – fellowship we talked with Connor about his experience in this program, what he wished he knew then, and asked him:

If you were sitting next to an ‘undecided major’ on a plane, what would you most want them to know about the program….and the school?

CNPL and SoHE, in general, is very transdisciplinary. You’re able to tailor the program to your interests and career plans, including curriculum, course projects and papers, and internship experience. The faculty go out of their way to ensure you get the most out of the program!

What brought you to the Community & Nonprofit Leadership program ? Why was it right for you?

My academic advisor suggested CNPL after I shared my broad interest in solving issues of health inequities. CNPL provided a foundation for understanding how community resources shape well-being, which was complemented by my minor in Global and Public Health that provided perspectives linking social inequities to population health.

Did you have an internship? How did that experience shape your next steps?

I was a Research Coordinator for a study in the Department of Population Health Sciences. This role provided a foray into academic research and directly led to an offer to pursue a PhD in Human Development and Family Science at Auburn University to conduct research on social determinants of population health.

I’m curious, do you have a ‘most memorable experience’ as a human ecology student?

My internship! I was fortunate to find and be offered the opportunity (with the help of SoHE teaching faculty, Michael Maguire) to work on a project that was perfectly aligned with my interests. Of course, being able to frequently grab coffee and snacks at Robin’s Nest with classmates was also a memorable experience.

What do you wish you knew then [when you were an undergrad] that you know now?

The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. Graduate school was a humbling experience that allowed me to recognize that potential solutions to social issues are often more complex than they may seem. I don’t say this to be discouraging or pessimistic but to emphasize the importance of being a lifelong learner!