Coordinator of the Month: Erica Sun
Name: Erica Sun
Hometown: Clinton Township, MI
College Attended / Major: University of Minnesota/ Dance, Psychology, and Life Sciences; Eastern Michigan University/ M.S. in Exercise Physiology
HealthCorps School Placement/State/City: Tishomingo High School/Tishomingo/Oklahoma
Fun Fact: I’m a HUGE Gopher football fan. People from home actually call me Miss Minnesota. And, interestingly enough, many of the people I have met in Oklahoma often think I’m headed home to Minnesota, not Michigan, for the holidays, as I typically have on a Minnesota coat or am carrying a Minnesota mug.
HC: How did you become involved with HealthCorps?
ES: After completing my Masters, I had the opportunity to be part of a small team developing a Pediatric Weight Management Program in Detroit for 3 years. Due to the nature of the public health field and funding, there wasn’t a large opportunity for growth in that position. My other professional experience is in cardiovascular health, teaching, dance, and youth, so the HealthCorps opening was appealing to me.
Additionally, I was drawn to the placement in Oklahoma because of the founder, the Chickasaw Nation. My grandmother is full blood Onieda Indian, and my great uncle was actually chief of the tribe for many years. Because of my heritage, I have grown up aware of the health disparities that the Native American population faces and was eager to help. It has been such a pleasant experience to work alongside the Chickasaw Nation and hear their heart for their people.
HC: What has been the highlight of your placement so far?
ES: Although a vast amount of my work experience has been with youth, I have never exclusively worked with high schoolers. It is like writing a letter to my younger self, but it actually is being read and makes a difference! I find it very rewarding to celebrate their accomplishments and be a support system when things don’t go as planned, too.
Personally, I most enjoy teaching our Mental Resilience curriculum. Much of what we teach I’m still working on myself, and I learn something new every time I teach on it. I wish that I had access to such information when I was in high school.
HC: Outside of the classroom, what are some of the activities that you are involved with?
ES: Southern Oklahoma is a very different pace of life from Metro Detroit. It allows me much more time to connect with God, be active, cook, explore nature, and pursue professional development opportunities. I am recently Zumba certified, and I teach weekly at the high school. One of the goals I set for myself, after moving to Oklahoma, was to increase running. In the fall, I had the opportunity to train one of our staff members for her very first 5K. In March, we have a county-wide run coming up, and I’m hoping to get a training group started of staff, students, and friends, as it is a night run that benefits childhood obesity efforts in the area.
HC: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
ES: Before HealthCorps, I was looking into getting a graduate certificate in public health. Interestingly enough, because of my previous experience and my service with HealthCorps, I am eligible to sit for certification without additional schooling. After obtaining my certification, I plan to stay in the youth and public health area. I really enjoy the ground work of this field, working one-on-one with the population, and would hope to find a position that could provide that. I also have taught at the collegiate level and wouldn’t mind doing more of that. I like to have my hand in all the cookie jars, and this position allows that. It will be hard to replace.
HC: 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?
ES: Being a HealthCorps coordinator, we wear many different hats and are always doing something. I tend to enjoy doing things myself, and that isn’t always conducive to getting things done in this position. Company wide we use the term “reach sideways” and I’ve definitely grown by having to do just that with other coordinators, staff, students, and community members. Not only has this practice considerably reduced work stress, it has allowed me to build relationships with people who used to be strangers and encouraged me to dream big regarding what can realistically be accomplished. Wherever I end up, I feel the humility in asking for help, ability to delegate tasks, and taking a vote of confidence in others will be most beneficial professionally and personally.
We want to thank Erica Sun for her exceptional work and congratulate her for being this month’s coordinator of the month.