Hughes, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties
14 year of service
Who inspires you?
My four daughters inspire and motive me every day to be the best version of myself! I know they are watching what I do and how I do it, so I want to be a strong, healthy example for them to imitate. Much of what we do in public health is creating healthy environments that will benefit the next generation. I try to keep this in mind in every initiative, knowing that the work we do today will impact our children and grandchildren.
Got any favorite quotes?
I have a quote above my desk at work which says:
“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.” -Dr. Robert H. Goddard
This reminds me that in public health we may serve communities and populations of people that are struggling, yet deserve our empathy, compassion, and respect. We must be able to connect with all kinds of people in order to be most effective, and we must always remember that we are more alike than we are different.
If someone was interested in a public health career (or one in your field), what advice or encouragement would you give them?
If you like solving problems, you will love public health! Talk to those in public health and come be a part of the many public health initiatives in your community. We need you now – even as you are just thinking about public health. Your perspective is valuable. Most counties and communities have local health coalitions and workgroups that you can become a part of.
The field of public health offers opportunities to learn something new every day, and you will make a difference in the lives of others.
How did you start working in public health?
I began a career in public health in Muskogee County in 2005. I have held positions as an immunization field consultant, accreditation coordinator, and now as a health educator. One of the benefits of a career in public health is the opportunity to work in various departments and program areas, which allows one to learn and appreciate all of the many aspects of public health. I currently serve the people and communities of Hughes, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pottawatomie, and Seminole Counties – the areas where my family grew up. It is truly a blessing to be able to come back home to this area and work alongside such amazing people in rural Oklahoma.
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma? What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I love working as a health educator in rural Oklahoma. The communities I serve have some of the best people around! Serving others and seeing lives changed is the most rewarding part of my job.
The most enjoyable aspect is the variety of work I get to take on as a health educator. I seek to match health improvement initiatives with the needs of the community – and no two communities are exactly the same!
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
The role of a public health educator is fun, interesting, and diverse. Depending on the needs of a community, a public health educator may provide school health programs, teach teen pregnancy prevention classes, start a diabetes prevention program, investigate and address the causes of infant mortality in a community, and partner with other groups to promote healthy living. The opportunities are as unique as the communities we serve.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
A difficult aspect of public health is witnessing the health disparities that still exist in Oklahoma, which are often more pronounced in rural areas – we must continue to address this in all aspects of public health so that all Oklahomans have equitable opportunities for a healthy life.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
The opportunity to work with various partners in public health is a rewarding experience daily. Here in Okemah, I partner with the Muscogee Creek Nation health programs on many initiatives. By partnering, we are able to pool resources, fill in gaps that exist, and reach more people together than we would be able to reach apart. Other groups that we have partnered with include the Town of Clearview, Town of Boley, OSU Extension, and area schools.
Public health is like a very challenging, yet very fun puzzle that we are always working on collectively. Because public health issues are complex and multidimensional, the solutions are often complex as well. This requires us to think and act in creative ways with multiple partners. Sometimes we have to move pieces around until we get just the right fit that is needed to impact health.