Coordinator of the Month: Alica Diehl
Name: Alica Diehl
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
College Attended / Major: Johns Hopkins University/Neuroscience
HealthCorps School Placement: Patterson High School in Baltimore, MD
Fun Fact: I thrive on having lots of activities to do. I keep very busy playing both indoor and beach volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, swing dancing, volunteer farming and canning produce!
Jeffrey Hartinger: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Alica Diehl: I was a research assistant at Johns Hopkins and found myself taking time off to volunteer for organizations that taught about food; how it grows, how to cook it, etc. When my old Hopkins volleyball teammate Alex Zenoff, a HealthCorps alumnus, got word of this, she contacted me about joining the HealthCorps family. It was the best advice I could have received.
JH: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
AD: HealthCorps schools from the Mid-Atlantic Region come together at the end of the school year for a final Teen Battle Chef showdown. Five schools in our program from DC, DE, and MD came together to compete against one another for title of Mid-Atlantic champion. Organizing this competition, from both the team preparation and event planning sides, was so much fun! Seeing my teen chefs take on responsibility and leadership roles in a professional kitchen at Stratford University was so rewarding. The veggie-full crab cakes they made were delicious, and they impressed everyone by performing the accompanying skit with confidence. When one of them was accepted to the culinary school that hosted the competition, it was the icing on the cake!
JH: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
AD: I helped roll out our lunchroom salad bar. I’ve led both staff and student exercise clubs, power yoga sessions for our men’s basketball team, hosted cooking club, and coordinated Yoga Across America after-school yoga sessions for all students. I helped write a grant that resulted in construction of a Hoop House to expand our school garden. I look forward to helping teachers incorporate garden activities into their lessons and curricula this year.
JH: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
AD: I think that food is an incredible way to build social connection and community. I would really like to establish a community kitchen where I can teach healthy cooking classes to students and adults, host community potlucks, provide kitchen space for food entrepreneurs, and trainings for those looking to get into the food industry. I’d like to connect the community kitchen to a community garden to deepen the connection with food to include connection with the earth. Before I’m ready to start that endeavor though, I’m interested in studying Gastronomy in graduate school, or continuing to get valuable work experience focused on food and health from a community education perspective.
JH: What is one thing you have learned from your placement that you will be able to carry with you as you move forward in life?
AD: I’ve learned to take the advice that Nike’s been giving all along –“Just do it.” It’s certainly important to think about procedures and possible outcomes and to ask permission, and get your ducks in a row. However, there are times when everything isn’t going to be perfectly in place, and you need to just roll with it. A great idea will never come to fruition if you get bogged down in details. It can change and develop as you go, and it will probably take on its own, even greater form after you initially get out there and “just do it!”
We want to thank Alica Diehl for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.