Coordinator of the Month: Stephanie Drago | January 2020
Name: Stephanie Drago
Hometown: Riverside, CA
College Attended / Graduating Class / Major: California State University of San Bernardino, 2015, Communication
HealthCorps School Placement / City / State: Ramona High School, Riverside, CA
Fun Fact: I have a pet Tortoise named Donna.
Question #1: Why did you choose HealthCorps?
I worked with HealthCorps at a previous job and really enjoyed collaborating with the coordinator during lunch time activities at a high school. I was planning to move back to my hometown when a position opened in Riverside and I was starting my personal health journey at the same time. HealthCorps’ mission and program line up with my values too, so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity.
Question #2: What role do you play in your school(s) beyond “HealthCorps Coordinator”?
Other than a coordinator, I found myself being a bridge between departments and community organizations and businesses. HealthCorps programming has allowed me to work with all departments in some capacity and bringing them together for a health and wellness project makes the on-campus community stronger. Also, getting students and teachers to work on community projects outside of campus shows the potential impact a high school can have outside of campus.
Question #3: What have you learned during your placement so far? What has surprised you most?
I realized that, for the most part, people are willing to have conversations about health and wellness, even if it’s a sensitive subject. They sometimes just need some support in continuing to learn about it and to know that there are people on campus to support them.
Question #4: What advice would you give to teachers, parents, communities, etc. who are looking to create more programming focused on healthy living for their students?
Start with the basics and make it easy to learn. For example, many students and adults were not familiar with reading nutrition labels. This is one of the first things someone needs to know to gain control over their health and wellness. Teaching the basics goes a long way. Just having a conversation about health and wellness is important; we should try to normalize it. All people are sensitive about body image, so make sure to add self-love and care any way you can in the conversation. Stay away from words like “skinny” and make sure when talking about “losing weight” you change the conversation to “losing fat” and “gaining muscle”. Be culturally sensitive.
Question #5: What advice do you have for future Coordinators or anyone looking to join health-related fields?
Trust the process. It is important to understand that all institutions, organizations, and people are always developing and growing. Keep working on your goal to provide folks with health and wellness education. Get acquainted with the people you are serving and then be creative. Sometimes you may think students or staff are not listening, but despite responses, know that you are making an impact.
Question #6: What do you plan to pursue after your placement, and how is your time with HealthCorps helping you achieve that goal?
Through HealthCorps, I have been able to make connections with local health organizations, so I may pursue a career with them and continue to get a Master degree. I also learned that I really love teaching, so that will be an option too since I have passed my CBEST and can be a substitute teacher for now.
HealthCorps made me prove myself to myself; pushing me to try things that I have never done. At this point, the possibilities are endless, and I am open to opportunities, but I really want to stay in the present moment and enjoy the progress I have made professionally and personally. I want to keep challenging my self to be a great coordinator for the program and my community until the time comes to leave HealthCorps. Despite where I go or who I work for, I would love to continue to work for or with HealthCorps in some capacity.