Coordinator of the Month: Jessica Silon | March 2019
Name: Jessica Silon
Hometown: Eastport, New York
College Attended / Major: State University of New York at Plattsburgh / Bachelors of Science in Nutrition
HealthCorps School Placement/State/City: Oxnard Union High School District/California/Oxnard
Fun Fact: Since moving to California, I’ve learned to surf and rock climb!
Question #1: What led you to HealthCorps?
After receiving my Bachelors of Science degree in Nutrition from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2015, I worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and Foodlink of Rochester as a Nutrition Educator serving the community. I loved the work I was able to accomplish in my local communities throughout New York. However, I’ve had an urge to both travel and live in California for as long as I can remember.
After spending a year traveling, I knew I wanted to continue my work in the field of Community Nutrition/Public Health but this time in Southern California. In the summer of 2018, while back in New York visiting family, I came across the job posting for the Regional Coordinator of HealthCorps placed in Oxnard,CA.
I reviewed the posting, and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the position I had been looking for, located in the very place I’ve always dreamed of living.
I immediately applied, and after a course of virtual interviews, I was offered the job and asked to relocate from NY to CA in just two weeks. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind. I packed my belongings in one weekend, hopped in my car, found an apartment virtually and set out for the West.
Ever since my first day working for HealthCorps, I knew I made the right choice to move my whole life across the country to serve this amazing community and live out my dreams.
Question #2: What has been the best part about your placement so far?
That is such a hard question to answer because there have been so many incredible moments. If I had to narrow it down to one part, it would be the community. I feel so grateful to share HealthCorps in classrooms, plan health fairs and lead health-related clubs with high school students across the Oxnard Union High School District. In addition, it has been an honor to work with the OUHSD Farm to School program and collaborate with community members expanding far and wide.
Starting my placement here in Oxnard has deepened my personal belief that community is what turns a place into a home, and when we come together we become?wiser and more powerful to pave the? way for positive changes.
Question #3: What are some activities that you are involved with outside of the classroom?
Outside the classroom, I am active in many different areas of advocacy and event planning. Currently, I am planning school site health fairs that will reach more than 18,000 students, staff and community members. For these health events, I have had the pleasure of creating connections with local colleges such as California State University – Northridge – Pathways to Success Fellowship program, California State University Channel Islands – Health Science Department and Oxnard College.
In addition, I’m involved with leading District Wide Wellness Policy meetings that invite key individuals from the entire school district include district leaders, students, teachers, school faculty and community members to effectively and collaboratively implement the OUHSD Wellness Policy.
When I am not working on planning health fairs or implementing the OUHSD Wellness Policy, I am working on staff wellness programs for all school sites to give some extra appreciation and wellness motivation for hard-working staff across the district!
Question #4: What do you plan to pursue after your service to HealthCorps is complete?
After my service to HealthCorps is complete, I plan to earn my Masters of Public Health and continue to work in the world of public health intervention planning & advocacy.
I would love to work for a global non-profit in the future, and have the opportunity to travel to international locations, learn from other communities and implement sustainable wellness-promoting programs in areas of need around the world.
Question #5: 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?
One lesson I have learned from my placement, that I will be able to carry forward throughout the rest of my life, is to foster community wherever you may be and maintain a positive mindset.
My life was enriched in endless ways when I moved onwards into the unknown with a positive, enthusiastic mindset. However, it was through fostering authentic connections with the OUHSD and local community, that has made my placement truly feel like home and deepened my passion for working in the field of public health.