From the Corps: How Coordinator Training Solidified My Passion for Health
by: Cedra Starks
First year Coordinator
High School of Fashion Industries, NYC, NY
University Heights High School, Bronx, NY
Health Corps summer training was an amazing experience that set the tone for the journey I’m about to embark on as a Program Coordinator for two high schools in New York City (High School of Fashion Industries and University Heights). Receiving this opportunity just a week before graduating with my Masters in Public Health reassured me it was time for me to start impacting lives the way I had always intended to when I chose to pursue public health as a career.
As I traveled to San Bernardino, California for our in-person training I was nervous to meet everyone for the first time. Of course, having my travels plans delayed due to the weather, which resulted in me missing introductions did not help either. I felt like the new kid at school!
I arrived at the Upland High School campus, where our training was held, and jumped right into conversation and a cooking demonstration. Throughout the week I participated in informative sessions related to the job of a Program Coordinator from preparations for classroom facilitation to Café O Yea segments.
I also learned much more about HealthCorps as an organization. The company’s mission, culture, norms, pillars, goals, and objectives are all tied into our daily work. First year coordinators were led in sessions and activities by second year coordinators who had such a contagious upbeat energy. It was great to see current employees in action and also sharing their first hand experiences. The education team, executive staff, HCU staff, partners, and funders joined in training sessions throughout the week, all tying together the mission of HealthCorps.
My key takeaways from summer training:
Culture, Norms and Professional Expectations
Every session and aspect of training was directly tied to the HealthCorps culture, norms and professional expectations. Fun facilitation is a part of the culture and this was apparent throughout the day (Not typical when you think of training). At the end of Day 1, I was awarded with a “Health Hero” crown for displaying the HealthCorps norm “Make It Work” for being positive to get to training despite my travel troubles. It speaks volumes that the team recognized me for that and made it a point to celebrate that as a group. I was already happy to be at training in California but being a Health Hero was an awesome way to kick off my week! Each day during training, a new coordinator was awarded as a “Health Hero” crown for exhibiting one of the HealthCorps norms. Employee recognition is an excellent way to boost morale and overall performance.
Team work makes the dream work!
The teamwork and comradery of HealthCorps staff was so noticeable with Program Supervisors, the Ed team, and second year coordinators facilitating training sessions with ease and expertise. Everyone was very quick to lend a helping hand and assist each other before anyone had to ask. I also noticed that the first year coordinators immediately got along very well in-person. It dawned on me that HealthCorps recruits like minded individuals with similar strengths yet unique qualities to add to the team and to their schools. It was refreshing to be around so many people with similar passions and goals. I loved the “reach sideways” norm, throughout the week and I saw it utilized in many ways. This assured me that we are not alone in this process and the leadership in this organization but teach directly from experience. Expectations are realistic and attainable.
Remarks from Partners and Funders
The week concluded with a lunch with staff and special guests whom were partners, funders, and supporters. During lunch, remarks from Steve Pontell and Cid Pinedo representing National Core and Hope Through Housing Foundation, were heartwarming and touching. I know how passionate I am about health and how much I want to help people make better lifestyle choices, but sometimes in the public health field you never really know if people can see that in you. Cid Pinedo’s speech was so powerful that it had me on the verge of tears. His words reminded me that other people know the value of HealthCorps and the importance of our mission, and that each person in the room was not there by chance but to be a part of a strategic plan for change.
Walking into a job that aligns with your purpose is an incredible feeling, and doing what you love so it never feels like work, is a great way to achieve success. My HealthCorps training experience solidified my passion for health even more, and reassured me how important my role is for the greater good.