HSC grad finishes MPH degree while on Army deployment in Kuwait

By Sally Crocker

Maurico Ripley Web

There was a big celebration in Kuwait when new HSC graduate Maurico Ripley’s diploma arrived with the daily mail.

Ripley is a Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) who has been deployed to the Middle East for most of his graduate program, studying with the HSC School of Public Health online – and today, he proudly holds an MPH degree with a Graduate Certificate in Food Security.

He has a big job as Army Reserve Senior Food Safety Officer, managing teams that inspect all food products coming in to base stations from the U.S.

Since the military procures items like fresh milk, poultry, fruits, vegetables and more from local contacts within the Middle East, it is also CW3 Ripley’s job to audit food-manufacturing facilities and ensure that U.S. Forces’ food rules and regulations are met.

“I basically act as USDA/FDA Inspector in the Middle East,” he said.

At some point further down the road, he hopes this experience will lead him to a similar position at the federal level back home, possibly as a U.S.-based FDA Consumer Safety Officer.

When CW3 Ripley is not on deployment status, he serves as a Health Inspector for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (SAMHD). He has been with SAMHD since 2007 and with the Army Reserves since 2001.

“So far, I have deployed quite a bit, spending time in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan,” he said, so it was not a surprise to be finishing his last HSC class and preparing for graduation this year while once again serving his country overseas.

Ripley was deployed at about the time that COVID-19 began to spread throughout the world, arriving in Kuwait in mid-March, as military public health leaders were advising on appropriate measures for U.S. troops’ safety during the pandemic. He expects to return home to San Antonio sometime in December.

It was an exciting moment and a real feeling of accomplishment for the officer when his HSC degree arrived.

It was also time for a party, as friends from his unit hosted a cookout and shared their congratulations with a card and cake.

Adding the MPH to his other academic experience – bachelor degrees in Geography and Criminal Justice – has expanded his knowledge in public health, Ripley said, providing insight into the ways that public health policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, food safety and public health leadership can all inform his work.

“I had been looking for an affordable online MPH program when I found HSC,” he said. “HSC is recognized as having an excellent program in Texas.”

“Being able to complete this higher level of education has given me greater perspectives, opportunities to do more in my current work and career progression down the road, and has earned recognition from my peers for what the degree means. It’s been a really rewarding experience.”

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