Fearful to Confident in Philadelphia by Jess Hughes

In Pre-Service Orientation, we participated in an activity where we listed some of our anxieties moving into our year with NHC. I was the first to speak. I stated that my biggest fear was not being prepared for a year in public health, coming from a business background. It was the same fear I addressed in my initial interview with Sara Wein, Program Director for NHC Philly. At the time of my interview, and in that moment in front of 24 strangers, Sara addressed me saying that I would find my niche, and that I was chosen to be in this program for a reason. In an effort to diminish some of my anxiety, I dove headfirst into the world of public health. I attended several events focusing on the health of Philadelphia, and I got involved in many outside service organizations. Most importantly, I dedicated my heart and soul to my host site. I got to know the providers, patients, and even Maritza, our custodian. I studied hard for the GRE, applied to grad school, and continued to develop roots in the city I was calling home. In the end, the hard work truly paid off. I’ve been accepted into the Masters in Public Health program at Thomas Jefferson University, and I was hired by my host site as a Special Projects Coordinator.

While I credit my perseverance for my accomplishments, I would be lying if I didn’t say that some of this credit goes to the NHC program. I’m finishing my second year of service with AmeriCorps, and I will be honest in saying I have not always loved AmeriCorps, but this experience with NHC has been wonderful. Grad schools and my host site wouldn’t have even considered me for matriculation or employment without a solid year of public health experience under my belt. NHC allowed me to gain that experience in a supportive and nurturing environment. This program is very special and I have recommended it to several friends. With most of my fears gone, I am excited for this next chapter in my life, and I truly would not be here without NHC.

If you are reading this post and think that you don’t have enough experience or connections to pursue your dreams, you are wrong. With great perseverance and determination, and help from a supportive program like NHC, you can succeed. I sure did!