Faces of health education specialist
“Constantly look for open doors. Do not wait for them to come to you.”
Having personal strength and resilience along with an independent streak led Shanna to her career as a health education specialist.
Her current path was perhaps forged by her personal background. Originally from a town of 6,000 people in Pennsylvania on the border with Ohio. Her hometown was in poor shape because of the closure of the local steel industry. Poverty was common, and Shanna’s family was no exception. Her mother and sister suffered from a mitochondrial disorder with both eventually passing, her mother while she was in high school and her sister in 2012, followed by her father in the same year.
Following the advice of her undergraduate counselor, she sat down with Slippery Rock University’s catalog of majors and classes. She highlighted the classes that remotely drew her interest and ignored those for which she had no interest. That process narrowed her list down to a few majors to consider. Her choice came down to health science, which she admits she did not know much about the field. Shanna learned more about the major and concluded that it was the best fit for her.
Shanna graduated from Slippery Rock University with a bachelor of science in health science and obtained a Certificate of Advanced Evaluation Studies and a MPH, with an emphasis in health promotion, education and evaluation from Claremont Graduate University. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate in public health at Claremont with an emphasis in global health.
Shanna is a project specialist and evaluator at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center. In this position, her work entails program evaluation, project management, and mental health. Of the Seven Areas of Responsibility, Shanna’s work uses them all but primarily, Area V: Administer and Manage Health Education/Promotion.
For more than 18 years, Shanna worked in HIV/AIDS prevention research and evaluation starting at the California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS. She also worked with the Riverside Department of Mental Health, Research and Evaluation Section, and as a consultant on childhood obesity for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Shanna was also a program manager at the Center for Health Justice for the Men in Life Environments Project, an innovative and culturally congruent intervention designed to reduce HIV risk-related behaviors and improve psychosocial outcomes in recently incarcerated bisexual African-American. In 2012, she served as a consultant to the Pan African Parliament for the development of their 2014-2017 strategic plan.
Her two hobbies – reading and watching anime, help balance the quantitative and logical mindset she uses for her professional and academic purposes. They increase her language skills and aid in the development of the creative side of her mind.
Shanna connects with SOPHE as the Global Health Community of Practice Fellow, a SOPHE Collegiate Champion, and SOPHE’s Southern California Chapter as a national delegate and president-elect. She also serves as a regional lead and a campus liaison for the American Public Health Association.