YOU TUBE AUDIO RECORDING OF: Chukwuemeka Obi
TRANSCRIBED: March 30, 2016
FOR: Walden University
REPORTED/TRANSCRIBED BY: MERILEE S. JOHNSON, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP
>> My name is Chukwuemeka Obi. My degree program is a Ph.D. in Public Health, and with concentration in committee health education. And my title here is Program Director for mental health counseling, as well as all the charitable activities that Hopeful Steps Foundation works on. >> Dina Bergren: Wonderful. And can you tell us how you got started in the public health field? >> I went to Nigeria to my village to see my parents. And upon reaching, I discovered that a whole lot of my village mates, and the people I knew before coming to the United States are all dying from preventable diseases. At that time I was in telecommunications business, and when I came back I started questioning myself, "How can I help these people?" I started studying in public health as a counselor -- counseling people with problems of drugs and alcohol. From there I worked my way into getting into mental health counseling, the people on their -- victims of violent crime. You know, people who have some problem with gender identity and others, you know, sexuality transmitted diseases and all those things. And to make it better for myself, to -- I started scouting schools where I can learn more about public health. That's how I got to Walden University, to do my MPH, Master of public health.
>> Dina Bergren: Excellent. And what made a difference in your career path?
>> Well, the education I acquired in -- from Walden made it a quantum leap from where I used to be to who I am right now. After I completed my studied degree in public health from Walden, I was promoted from a position of one of the counselors to the position of Program Director. And it has a tremendous impact in what I'm doing right now because I learned so much during that program. And that's why I started to extend it to the Ph.D. level.
>> Dina Bergren: How did your Walden education help you excel in your current role as a Program Director?
>> The Walden education is a real big help to what I'm doing as a program director. They gave me the knowledge required, through research and class discussions, it helps me a whole lot. And coming into that work, and I just listen to what they are doing to what is tenable right now. Walden provides you not only the practical experience and how to deal with issues relating to the issue. They provide you, also, with such resources, where you can get information you need for everyday needs at an organization like mine. Where non-profit organization that cares for disadvantaged people. And out there, there's not a whole lot of information you can get by just talking to other people. You have to delve into research. It's really helping me. This is helping me to advance. At this point in time, I am actually into educating other directors in my field from what it is currently obtainable.
>> Dina Bergren: It sounds like you're taking on more and more leadership roles and training other program directors. And in your role in that working is also very important. What networking strategies have helped you build relationships with community agencies and public health professionals?
>> Well, the networking strategy I use is, I go to seminars that are organized by the Department of Public Health. They bring experts in other areas, in all the disciplines into disciplinary team, coming in to make presentations. I also learn a lot whenever I go to Walden residency. I meet a lot of people there, and ask what they do, and they tell me what they do, and I learn from them, they learn from me. This really helps me a whole lot to up my ante in what I do.
>> Dina Bergren: And how has your international volunteer experience further helped you expand your knowledge of public health and promote social change?
>> Very much. Very much. Every year annually I go overseas with my team to do health screenings for, again, preventable diseases that are killing a lot of people. Like high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer. Cervical cancer. We provide pap smears, on-the-spot results, for women who do not even know about it. We also screen for diseases like typhoid. Who also do screening for cataracts for the people who have eye problems and glaucoma. And receive donations from all over to help these people when we go over there. Doing such a things helps you to really realize that in order to change -- bring change, you have to delve into action. You don't have to wait for somebody to pay you or ask you to do something. Social change is about doing something to change people, and lead them -- from what -- from where they are right now to a better way of having a quality of life. A better way of living. And a better way of interacting with one another.
>> Dina Bergren: Yeah. You are definitely actively engaging in social change and promoting Walden's social change in the work that you do. And what advice would you give other Walden students who are seeking to enter the public health field or advance in their career?
>> Be courageous. Interact with people in the professions. Never say "no" when they tell you "no." Never step back. Be proud of what you're learning at Walden. This is very important. Walden provides one of the best educations in the field of public health as far as I know, I've seen other Universities. So when you are out of there, continue to interact with former Walden alumni. Alumni members. So Walden is very, very important. Most of them are in a high-level position like I am. I'm only trying to transition from what I have right now to getting to University to teach what I have learned. Interact with faculty members. They are open. All the time to answer your questions when you need it. Even if you are going for an interview, you can run it by your advisor and they can help you. Always, always put in your heart this mission of social change, when you are getting in an organization, because when you have it with you, you bring something different that they do not. Not every organization is about social change. And not every organization understands what it means. So as a Walden graduate, or would-be graduate, it is important you utilize all the resources that are available for you. As well as interact with all the people you know in the field who can help elevate your career mission.
>> Dina Bergren: Chukwuemeka, thank you very much for meeting here with us today and sharing your career success story. We wish you the very best as you continue with Walden University and advance in your career.
>> Thank you so much, Dina, and I appreciate the time you took to do this spotlight. And I hope it can help some people learn a little more about what we do.
[This text is being provided in a rough-draft format to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings]