Coordinator of the Month: Elizabeth Gass
Name: Elizabeth Gass
Hometown: New York, NY
College Attended / Major: Dickinson College / Biology and Studio Art
HealthCorps School Placement/State/City: Monroe Academy For Visual Arts and Design
Fun Fact: If I had to be one Game of Thrones character I would be Lyanna Mormont
Layla Ronan: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
Elizabeth Gass: I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but after shadowing physicians, more specifically cardiologists, I realized that we are becoming sick because of our own unhealthy behaviors, and these behaviors are created because of under education of best wellness practices. Many people are only educated through marketing and advertisements on television and other social media platforms, so as the consumer, we are taught to eat unhealthy foods, which is making our waistlines larger and larger. This made me incredibly frustrated and ignited my passion for teaching nutrition. I then came across HealthCorps because of my family’s involvement in the organization and interned for a summer. While interning, I interacted with the coordinators and HealthCorps staff and every one of them emanated their eagerness to better the lives of inner city youth. I wanted to be a part of this team. What makes HealthCorps so special is its importance on teaching the three pillars of health, nutrition fitness and mental resilience, this allows our students to better their wellness from all angles and you can see our students mature into well-rounded healthy young adults because of these focuses. I am so grateful for HealthCorps for finding my passion to better the wellness of our nation.
LR: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
EG: The highlight of my placement has been facilitating a cooking club every week after school. During this time 10 dedicated students would bravely try new healthy meals that they have never seen before. My most successful meal was teaching them how to just make a basic salad dressing because they realized raw vegetables can taste great! Moreover, my favorite cooking club memory was when cooking club student was secretly snacking on the left over spinach after we made veggie quesadillas. This student before cooking club never would eat any vegetables because he was afraid to try them. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he now loved spinach and eats it as a regular snack at home. He has introduced recipes to his family that have spinach in them and his whole family now loves spinach!
LR: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
EG: One of the activities I do outside of the classroom is teach healthcorps lectures to youth groups thoughout the South Bronx community. I came across this when a pastor came to talk to my students during an assembly. We discussed the benefits of teaching teenagers and their families about nutrition labels and sugar science and it took off! This has been my most rewarding activity outside of the classroom. I wanted to take my wellness passion out of the Bronx and focus on patient education so I have started working with a hospital to better the wellness of patients and community members in low-income neighborhoods throughout Westchester County.
LR: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
EG: After HealthCorps I plan to go to graduate school for community health and food policy. HealthCorps has opened up an entire realm of wellness possibilities and I feel by going to grad school I can explore these opportunities further.
LR: 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?
EG: One thing I learned is the great truth of one of our HealthCorps norms, assume good intent. The students that we work with can sometimes be hard to reach and this can become frustrating as a teacher who is so passionate about bettering the wellness of our students. Opportunely, the HealthCorps program puts a high importance on mentoring time and during this time we learn so much about our students’ stories and these stories are incredibly powerful and allow me to better understand how to present myself not only to my student but also to everyone around me.
We want to thank Elizabeth Gass for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.