Coordinator of the Month: Ejiro Ntekume | October 2019
Name: Ejiro Ntekume
Hometown: Bay Area, California
College Attended / Graduating Class / Major: UCLA Class of 2015
HealthCorps Site Placement / City / State: Good Shepherd Center, Los Angeles, CA
Fun Fact: My name means “pray.”
Question #1: Why did you choose HealthCorps?
I wanted to have the opportunity to utilize my creativity and passion for the arts, health and dance in one space. I also wanted to gain experience working within the community with people from all walks of life, and HealthCorps gave me the opportunity to do that. When I first started with HealthCorps, I was placed at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a public health professional. I was involved in EVERY aspect of the program, from design, implementation and outcome evaluation, to even engagement. I got to create AND work with the community I was serving at the same time and that was a great experience. I learned quickly how the power of community. I understood HOW to empower individuals to take control of their health and well being. In the same light, I also served as a liaison between the students and school staff and leaders. At times, I worked closely with upper level staff and admin professionals to ensure that what I was creating a program that would engage not only the students, but the staff as well.
This experience truly helped me transition into my role with Good Shepherd Center. While both communities are VERY different, I learned a plethora of things at Long Beach Poly, that informed the programming I am doing at Good Shepherd.
Question #2: What have you learned during your placement so far? What has surprised you most?
One of the most important things I’ve learned at Good Shepherd, is the power of listening. It’s amazing what you learn when you focus and take the time to listen. It really impacts the quality of the program you deliver. In addition, it has sharpened my ability to understand macro and micro level problems and help create sustainable solutions.
Question #3: What advice would you give to teachers, students, parents, communities, etc. who are looking to create more programming focused on healthy living for their students?
Understand your students’ learning styles and utilize educational aspects of social media. Empower your students, by allowing them to learn about health topics and “teach” their peers in the classroom. Give them the room to explore health in a creative and innovative way.
Question #4: What advice do you have for future Coordinators or anyone looking to join health-related fields?
If you are getting ready to be a Coordinator for HealthCorps, my advice is to “dive in”, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Understand the community you are working with and be open to acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers. Once you accept that, your mind will be more open to establish a strong and sustainable HealthCorps program. Most importantly, YOU as a coordinator will grow both personally and professionally in ways you probably didn’t expect.
Question #5: What do you plan to pursue after your placement, and how is your time with HealthCorps helping you achieve that goal?
After my time with Good Shepherd Center, I will transition into Health Technology, and focus more of my work on supporting tech companies to establish more well-informed health programs and, in some cases, community programs.