Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Rebecca Utz, 2016 Cottrell Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Rebecca Utz Dr. Rebecca Utz, Miami University MGS Alumni, 1999

Miami University’s Master of Gerontological Studies (MGS) degree 

Dr. Rebecca Utz, associate professor of Sociology at the University of Utah, received the W. Fred Cottrell Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Field of Aging in April 2016. Rebecca shared with us how her Master's studies at Miami University helped her prepare for a career as in higher education. 

What sets the MGS program at Miami University apart?

The hands-on skills learned from involvement in faculty-directed research, an internship at AARP, and faculty mentorship provided an invaluable foundation for Rebecca’s career. (1:02 min)

Rebecca’s MGS thesis became an Ohio Long-term Care Policy Report

With the help of mentors and faculty advisors, Rebecca’s master’s thesis was developed into an applied policy report titled “The Ohio Assisted Living Industry”,  as part of the Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project at Scripps Gerontology Center. (0:49 min)

The MGS Practicum experience helps students refine career goals

Rebecca completed the MGS practicum at the American Association of Retired Persons in Washington, DC doing policy research. She was encouraged by her supervisor to pursue a PhD to further her career.

Immediately after earning her MGS degree, Rebecca chose to pursue a PhD in Sociology to continue her research training and explore her interests in applied policy-oriented health and aging. (1:14 min)

Miami’s MGS program teaches leadership skills needed for the future

Rebecca recommends students considering aging as a field of study or inquiry should adopt and embrace an integrative learning perspective.

“it's not just understanding the biology and the environment and it's not just understanding policy … the next leaders in the field of aging need to be able to integrate those perspectives in order to have the most efficient and effective policy and practice solutions for our aging population.” (0:57)