As part of our ongoing Five Questions series highlighting local maternal/infant health champions, we are honored to feature this week Nurture Board Member Melicent Miller.
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Melicent Miller, DrPH, MSPH
Project Director, Lupus Foundation of America
Public Health and Health Equity Strategist, Health Forward LLC
Nurture Board Member
What drew you to the field you’re in?
Growing up in rural South Carolina, I saw first-hand the impact of poverty, low education attainment, unemployment, and lack of opportunities/access to nutritious foods, physical activity, and healthcare had on my small town. These disparities were often accepted as fate, especially among communities of color and underserved and rural communities. As a child, I aspired to be a teacher and physician to help my community gain access to much-needed education, resources, and healthcare to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. For me, public health is the perfect blend of my two childhood dreams. As a vast field, public health allows for the intersection of so many disciplines, resulting in the ability to change the lives of many through programs, services, and policy.
What part of your daily work inspires you the most?
Knowing that I am impacting others’ health and well-being. I am privileged to contribute to programs and services that allow our constituents to learn more about their health condition and equip them with tools and resources to take control of their health.
How can RVA keep moving forward to become a model community for childbearing families?
To move forward collectively, we must be sure to keep front and center the voices and needs of families, especially those most disproportionately impacted by issues from preconception to child-rearing. We must ensure that each program, service, communication, and story is truly reflective of the community that we serve. We must marshal our resources to elevate the voices that have been silenced and bring to light the faces that have been hidden to ensure equitable access to care, education, and support.
If you could share one piece of wisdom with childbearing families or professionals who serve them, what would it be?
As professionals, we must realize that everyone is not at a place where they can accept and receive what we offer. Today, and maybe more than ever, competing priorities, such as meeting basic needs and lack of trust, are barriers that we must not ignore. As a healthcare community, we must put aside our agenda, and meet people where they are first, in order to make any impact.
Tell us about one of your favorite accomplishments.
One of my favorite accomplishments, and something that I continue to strive to do, is bringing together over 100 non-traditional partners. The health and social issues are multifaceted. It will take all sectors working together to find viable solutions to resolve them.
Read more about Melicent’s passion for promoting health and wellbeing here.