Graduate school is a balancing act, especially when you combine rigorous course work with an internship or research practicum. Kristina Boyd understands this balancing act better than most; in fact, she’s taken it to a whole new level.
In addition to serving as a research assistant in the UPMC Department of Emergency Medicine, the Dean’s Scholar and MS student in the Department of Biostatistics is a wife and mother to 2-year-old Garrett. “It's hard some days to make everything work and balance my school life and family life, but I know it will pay off,” she says.
Boyd first got a taste for research while studying biology at MIT. Toward the end of her degree, she decided to take a gap year to serve with AmeriCorps. One year turned into four when she landed a research position at the Massachusetts General Hospital Biostatistics Center under principal investigator and mentor Dianne Finkelstein, who encouraged her to pursue public health as a career. “Her mentorship and guidance is the reason I am where I am today, and I am extremely grateful for all of her support,” she says.
During those four years, Boyd also got married, had a child, and moved to Pittsburgh, where her husband is from and still has family, so he could pursue a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University. When she started researching graduate programs, Pitt Public Health was at the top of her list for both proximity and ranking (11th in the nation for biostatistics graduate programs), but when she met faculty members and students, found out about all of the research opportunities available, and learned how affordable it was, she was sold.
“When I found out I received a Dean's Public Health Scholar award, it made the decision that much easier,” Boyd says. “Going to grad school for me meant giving up a full-time income and enrolling my son in daycare, so I was extremely grateful to receive the award to help me offset these costs.”
While she’s not sure if she’ll continue onto a PhD before becoming a biostatistician, for now Boyd is focused on building relationships with faculty, like her advisor Associate Professor Ada Youk, and building a practical skill set that will serve her in future jobs or academic pursuits.
“I'm looking forward to growing in my knowledge of biostatistics and discerning my next steps, whether they be in academia or graduate school. I'm also hoping to get an internship with a local company and doing more professional networking.
“People don't automatically associate the idea of motherhood and graduate school, but I want prospective students who might find themselves in similar circumstances to know that it is possible and it is so worth it, even if it means approaching things a bit differently than everyone else.”