Meet Tiara Walz, a Ph.D. student in Public Health with a Health Policy concentration. Tiara's program is in the College of Health and her research is advised by her program director, Professor Denise M. Hynes. Tiara is an active-duty major with the United States Army as a medical service corps officer, and the Army funds her Ph.D. through the Long Term Health and Education Training program. Tiara told us that her funding comes with an expectation that she finish her doctorate in three years. This timeline is rigorous but comes with the guarantee that Tiara will continue her Army service as an Assistant Professor at Army Baylor (AB), a satellite of Baylor University located at Fort Sam Houston Texas. When Tiara transitions to her teaching duties at Army Baylor, she will be returning to the institution where she received her MHA and MBA.

The demands of Tiara's funding do not leave her with many opportunities to get hands-on teaching experience. But that limitation, and the desire to become the best educator she can be, inspired her to pursue the Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching (GCCUT). Tiara told us that when she returns to Army Baylor as a professor, she will not teach undergraduates but her peers with similar and sometimes more real-world experience than her. She explained, that kind of environment adds pressure to be viewed as a confident and credible educator. Tiara anticipates using the knowledge she gained around active learning strategies to connect the classroom with the lived experiences of her future students. GCCUT, Tiara revealed, gave her more confidence that she will make a positive impact in her future classrooms.

Tiara's focus on education is, of course, only part of what she is up to at OSU. She is also working vigorously on her Ph.D. research project. Utilizing publicly available datasets, her work aspires to improve the well-being of veterans and active-duty individuals, focusing on struggles with chronic pain and mental health.