Alumni Spotlight

Ready to Respond

SPEA alum prepares Indiana for Ebola outbreak

 By Jaclyn Lansbery

Lee Christenson stands in front of scribbles on a white board.

In 2008, Christenson moved to Indianapolis to work for the Indiana State Department of Health, where he developed training exercises for the Emergency Preparedness Division. He enrolled in SPEA IUPUI in 2010 to pursue graduate studies.

“My graduate certificate and my master’s degree really allowed me to build on my technical experience and look at things from a managerial and policy perspective,” he says. “To my current job, I think the courses were some of the most relevant and useful of any I have ever taken.”

Christenson says his line of work is not for someone who wants to work at a desk. His days at the Indiana State Department of Health are never identical, and are spent planning for a variety of natural and manmade disasters: earthquakes, terrorist attacks or other infectious diseases. When Christenson first entered college, he wanted to study psychology. He switched to public affairs at SPEA when he realized he wanted to make a broader impact on his community.

“One thing that is common between my interest in psychology and my field now is that this is a field where you’re learning constantly, all the time,” he says. “You need to be completely adaptable and flexible and you have to always be willing to learn new things. That’s what keeps me going.”