Staff Q&A: Getting to know Jillian McConville

Jillian McConville

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Education

By Bob Cunningham

Jillian McConville, assistant director of Undergraduate Education, has worked at the University of Michigan School of Public Health since 2014 and personally has helped 451 undergraduate students earn their bachelor’s degrees since 2017. Her expertise and thoughtful guidance helped steer undergraduates through the COVID-19 pandemic so they could go out into the world and be a part of the solution.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé and sweet pup, Casey, and, of course, getting together with family and friends whenever possible! Traveling, being active outside and embroidery (or really anything crafty) are also favorites of mine.

What first drew you to work in public health?

As an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, I enrolled in a series of health-related courses, and I learned about health inequities in access to healthy foods, proper medical care and safe living environments. I majored in Anthropology and Spanish with the intent of pursuing a nutrition-focused career path. That plan quickly changed after a grueling semester in Biochemistry. Still interested in public health and searching for what was next after graduation, I stumbled upon a job opportunity in the School of Public Health and joined in October 2014. Serendipitously, this was the same time that the Undergraduate Task Force began developing the program. I was given the opportunity to join this group, being fortunate to work alongside a very important mentor—and Michigan Public Health alumna—Dina Kurz. And the rest is history!

What's your favorite thing about the community?

This is an easy one: The mission of the field of public health and the remarkable ways our students strive to create a healthier, more equitable world. It’s no secret that U-M students are tenacious and brilliant. Pair that with a genuine passion for helping others and improving the health of their communities, and I get to witness students become alumni who go on to do great things.

What's one of your favorite professional experiences?

In May 2019, the inaugural cohort of 90 undergraduates walked across the stage at the School of Public Health’s graduation ceremony at the historic Hill Auditorium. This event not only celebrated the success of these remarkable students, but it also signified the five years of hard work that a small, but mighty group of Michigan Public Health faculty and staff put into building this program. I was—and continue to be—proud of students and grateful for the opportunity to grow in my professional journey alongside this program. This event was especially momentous because the following two graduation ceremonies were held virtually due to the pandemic.  

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?

In his speech at Michigan Public Health’s 2023 graduation ceremony, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the US Surgeon General, said:

“Never let what is broken about the world blind you to what is also beautiful about the world, because for all its flaws and imperfections there’s still a lot of good to be found around us if we are willing to look for it, if we are willing to be it.”

This quote perfectly describes the way our strong, courageous advocates of the Michigan Public Health community approach their work to create a healthier, more equitable world!