Coordinator of the Month: Cady Merchant
Name: Cady Merchant
Age: soon to be 24
Hometown: Prosperity, PA
College Attended / Major: Grove City College, PA/Exercise Science
HealthCorps School Placement: Ada High School, Ada, OK
Fun Fact: I definitely thought Oklahoma was way farther west than it actually is (closer to CA) until I was offered this job there with HealthCorps!
Jeffrey Hartinger: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Cady Merchant: One day when I was in college, my mom was watching Jeopardy, and Dr. Oz was playing for HealthCorps. She called me up and said, “Cady, you have to check this out. It’s right up your alley!” After getting on the HealthCorps website, I was intrigued and saw how my passions lined up with HealthCorps’ mission. The thought of working with teenagers to make a difference in their lives and health excited me. It just made so much sense to apply for this incredible opportunity, and I am so thankful I did!
JH: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
CM: The highlight of my experience has truly been the people of Ada. I have been blessed beyond belief here. When I (Cady Merchant) first applied for HealthCorps, I wanted to work in the Baltimore area. Little did I know, God had a plan for me that was better than my own (as usual), one that would take me halfway across the country to a small rural town. Upon moving to Ada, I immediately found the people to be very welcoming and so willing to help. They took me in as one of their own, and it has been a joy to be around such people!
JH: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
CM: This year I am grateful to be a part of our school food pantry, the Cougar Cupboard. It opened my eyes to a need of our students of which I was not fully aware. The Chickasaw Nation approached me about heading it up and provided the resources necessary to start it. We began in November of 2013.
I have also started to assistant coach for the tennis teams here and have enjoyed getting to spend time with the students in a different setting outside school.
HealthCorps Club has been another highlight to my programming. Each week I get to spend time with some stellar students and try out creative recipes to go along with my lessons on how to eat cleaner.
In general, I have noticed that I love to make food for my school, whether it be for my club, a Wellness Council meeting, snacks for students when they come to my office or a Café O Yea. Food and nutrition are definitely passions of mine!
JH: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
CM: After HealthCorps, I plan to go back to school to pursue my Masters in Nutrition and become a registered dietitian. Over the past couple years, I have become increasingly interested in this field of health. I have realized how much nutrition and exercise really do go hand in hand! HealthCorps has helped me to discover this passion and learn more about it. Not ready to leave Oklahoma, I will be staying here at least a little while longer while I work and go to school.
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?
CM: Aside from discovering my passion for food and nutrition, I have gained more experience in working, interacting, and developing positive relationships with others. Forming relationships with others is the key to making an impact. The relationships I have with the students and staff here at my school have enabled me to be a positive influence. Furthermore, I have been blessed and impacted by these relationships as well! It is easy to get sidetracked by my to-do list at times, but investing in people helps me realize the difference that can be made in someone else’s life. Keeping people at the heart of what I do is a lesson I am still learning and will continue to learn!
We want to thank Cady Merchant for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.