Coordinator of the Month: Arielle Feldshon
Name: Arielle Feldshon
Hometown: Orono, Minnesota
College Attended / Major: NYU, Global Liberal Studies & Mandarin Chinese
HealthCorps School Placement: Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School in Manhattan, New York
Fun Fact: I lived in Shanghai, China for one year! I learned to read, write, and speak Mandarin Chinese, dyed my hair platinum blonde, worked for Habitat for Humanity and wrote about it!
I also have been told that when it comes to hip-hop, I “can rap almost anyone under the table”.
Jeffrey Hartinger: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Arielle Feldshon: After working at a variety of not for profit organizations over four years, I had gained experience event planning, managing relationships with donors, researching, and in grant management. I wanted to finally implement the programs I had been working to support. HealthCorps allowed me to do this by putting me in a school and giving me the creative freedom to shape and execute my own classes, after school clubs, mentoring sessions, and so many other things.
I (Arielle Feldshon) also had previously worked in areas addressing homelessness, poverty, youth development, and women’s reproductive rights; but HealthCorps gave me the opportunity to marry my interest in community development with my interest in health (coming from a family of doctors and pharmacists… one can only imagine our dinner conversation topics).
JH: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
AF: Wow, I have had so many highlights. I took 4 of my students to a cooking competition in the Bronx and while the other instructors were coaching their students & telling them what to do, I watched my group do EVERYTHING on their own! They cooked, plated, presented, explained all of the health benefits to a panel of judges. I didn’t have to do a thing.
We also won the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Gold Award this year! The Alliance For A Healthier Generation is a program of the Clinton Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and American Heart Association. Each year they work with approximately 10,000 schools to develop healthy school cultures by eradicating soda machines, serving healthy lunches, and promoting exercise (among other things). Only seven schools have won this award in three years, and we were so proud to be one of them!
We also have a school wide health fair every year where the ENTIRE school comes together to make salads, sandwiches, and play games (active and creative) with each other. Our school has a hard time keeping students in the building on a normal day of school, but on the day of the Health Fair, the students are there until way after the day officially ended.
JH: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
AF: Especially after spending 2 years with HealthCorps, I have learned the benefit of work life balance. Lately my leisure activities have included traveling (I am writing this bio from my grandfather’s house in Greece), seeking good live music, blogging and making big dinners with friends. I am also a 90’s music enthusiast, and will find any opportunity to either dance or sing karaoke to Alanis Morisette/Bjork.
I am very close with my family in Minnesota and make sure to connect with them every day. Big hugs to you Archelle, David, Athena and Zoe!
JH: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
AF: In August I will be attending law school at American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC! After spending time at not for profit organizations focused on a variety of issues, I found even the best programs to help people are discontinued for a variety of reasons (lack of funding, political bias, waning interest, etc.)
My goal is to learn how to understand the law to tackle human rights injustices by making sustainable change through policy development and revision — my dream is to work at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
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?
AF: Through my interactions with students, I have definitely learned the value of consistency. Many of these students have inconsistencies in their lives– they might not have a place to sleep or they might lack a dependable role model. I found that showing up to school every day, ALWAYS having snacks and maintaining a positive attitude no matter what made the students trust me. I never had a problem in my class, and when I would need help or ask students to try new things, they were open to it because they knew what to expect from me. I started scheduling my tastings of new foods every Wednesday, and my Get Fit Fridays every week so that students were not caught off guard.
Developing this sense of trust was what brought students into my office with their real issues– pregnancy, STI’s, homelessness, safety, employment, hunger, gender identity, learning disabilities and relationship problems. Being able to mentor students in these areas is what REALLY gave my job meaning, and I hope to continue this kind of work in the future.
We want to thank Arielle Feldshon for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.