Alumni Spotlight: Kristina Wolfe Figueroa MSPH ’13

Name: Kristina Wolfe Figueroa 

Degrees & Graduation Year: B.S. Chemistry (UNCW 2011), MSPH (Campbell University CPHS 2013), DrPH candidate (ECU Brody School of Medicine 2022)

Current Job Title: Associate Director, Business Development at George Clinical

Practice Site: I work from home and travel to sponsor (Pharmaceutical Company) offices for meetings and relationship development events. I’d say that my travel is about 50% of work time.

How did your connections and experiences from CPHS guide you to your current position: Because I was a part of the inaugural MSPH class, I was primed to spearhead all sorts of initiatives in my career. I started my career with a Fortune 500 company, Quintiles (now IQVIA), and was able to connect other grads from the program to the company as well. From here, I had the opportunity to lead the growth of an Asia Pacific based Public Health Research Institute into the US, by being the first FTE in the US for George Clinical.  Interestingly enough, I’ve stayed very close with Dr. Tillman and Dr. Rich over the years, as they’ve also continued to empower me within the industry and also in my continued education.

Dr. Tillman connected me with the ECU DrPH leadership and helped me get into the program. It has been this last semester that has helped me appreciate the closeness of the CPHS connections, as I’m in an executive distance education program now, where the proximity and warmth is not the same. I’ve also very much appreciated the biostatistics background I was given through the CPHS MSPH program, even though I hated it when I was there (smile). I’ve learned over the years that many with “MPHs” don’t have near as much of a biostats background as the foundation we were given at Campbell in the MSPH program. This, so far, has served me well enough to skip a couple of biostats courses in the doctoral program I’m pursuing. It has also differentiated me from my colleagues, as I’ve written an actual thesis and published in journals. None of this would be possible without the support and rigor of the MSPH program (and more importantly, the people) at Campbell CPHS.

How did CPHS impact you as a person:  On top of the excellent education I received, the warmth of the regard for alumni has TRULY made the utmost difference. I don’t think I’m the only one that can relate on this statement. I feel well connected to the organization, its growth, vision and mission. While I’m not sure that I felt this way when I was an actual student (I was there to get my degree and start my career!), I’ve learned that this warmth is what has truly made my CPHS experience one for the books. CPHS treasures its alumni and truly invests in them, unlike any other University I know of.

Favorite CPHS memory:  I think it was the second semester of the first year in the MSPH program. We joined forces with the second PA class at Campbell CPHS and put together an inaugural policy review “day.” This was just the beginning of the collaborative efforts, as we pursued “Give Harnett Kids a Smile” together also. It was these connections and the collaborative nature of the professions that truly made our work as students more rewarding- on top if it being applied work that happens in the real world. Giving back is something that was at the forefront of all focuses at CPHS- servant leadership at its finest. This is something that I won’t ever forget.

What do you look forward to most when you come back to the Creek:  Other than Sunni Sky’s?!

This is probably “less happy” than we’d like for an alumni spotlight, but to be honest, the nostalgia of being there is something that is eminent in the most broken ways.

Here’s why it’s such an interesting feeling:

When I was a student there, I was still very much searching for my purpose in life. I was what we would call “lost,” though not spiritually, I was searching for the “whats” and the “whys” for my life. It wasn’t until after I started my career (post-graduation) that I feel like I found it. For this reason, visiting Buies Creek and the nostalgia of being on campus brings back a “lost and searching” feeling. The feeling of not knowing what’s next and of pushing forward anyway.

So yes, Sunni Sky’s is definitely the highlight.

What advice do you have to incoming first year CPHS professional students:  Trust the process. I know it’s hard, but be patient!  If you’re bored, go rogue. You need a challenge if this is the case. So spearhead something different for CPHS. Start a new initiative with your classmates and innovate while you’re there. The chance to lead something new is imminent at CPHS, so take advantage of those opportunities. Communicate.  Share your dreams, goals and vision with the faculty.  Let them help you navigate the real world and practice making strategic decisions with them as your “training wheels.”  Be a force of nature and don’t be afraid to play devil’s advocate. Build your skills to argue health decisions and policy changes with research to back you- and always be prepared to side with ALL potential outcomes.  Wage war to be grateful for this education. We usually aren’t grateful for things until we lose them (or come close to losing them), but posture yourself to surrender some things as a student, for the sake of something better that is coming.  It will come.  Be grateful.  Dream big.  And LOVE bigger.