Interview: How To Become a Public Health Educator
I had always wanted to be a school teacher. I got married, had kids, ended up working full time. Six months after I was married my husband was diagnosed with a kidney disease. He was told in six years he would have to have a kidney transplant. I was kind of stuck in my position because I couldn’t leave where I was. I had the primary insurance.
I went back and got my teaching credential. I was a teacher for four years. But in between that I ended up giving my husband a kidney. His whole family was tested and no one was a match except for his brother who had some complications. The doctor told me that I could be a match. So I went and got tested, and I was actually able to give him a kidney.
That was while I was teaching, which I always felt like was my passion. But once I gave him a kidney and we entered into this whole world of being so desperate of being on a waiting list and not knowing what’s going to happen, and finally receiving that gift of life. Not only giving him his life back, but his kids. His son and his daughter have their dad back now and they have a dad to play baseball with. He’s back to being a normal person again.
We just felt like when we walked away, we were leaving so many people still waiting for a life saving transplant. We wanted to do something about it. So we started the Donate Life Run/Walk which we do at Cal State Fullerton because we both graduated from there. The first two years we had David Eckstein there, which was great because his family is personally connected with kidney transplants. So we did the walk. We just completed our fifth year. We had 5,000 people at the walk this last year.
After the second year was actually when I got together with One Legacy and raised money for One Legacy. And they offered me a job. I was kind of torn because I always felt like teaching was my passion. But once we entered all of this and started meeting all these people who have been truly touched by transplants, that’s when I really found my personal passion.
Helping do whatever I can to educate people on organ donation. I ended up quitting my teaching job and I started working for One Legacy. I’ve been here for three years. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work. I go to work and it just doesn’t feel like work. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and knowing that on a daily basis you’re helping to educate people on organ donation and you’re getting the word out. It helps because if anything does happen to them, they’ve talked about it with their family and they know what their decision is. As someone told me, it’s not very often that you find what your passion is, but to be able to work for your passion and live your passion is amazing. It’s been a crazy, wild ride.