Hannah joined the Health Connected team in 2013. She is one of our Health Educators and our Teen Parent Panel Coordinator. Hannah has been working in the dynamic field of public health for more than 8 years, delivering education to diverse populations, mobilizing passionate volunteers, and coordinating sexual health education programs. She grew up in the Central Valley of California and is a proud alumna of CSU Fresno with a degree in Health Science. She will receive her Master of Public Health degree from San Jose State University in May 2015.
Why did you get into health education?
I first got into health education in high school. I became a peer educator and worked with the teen dating violence prevention program and so I really liked the aspect of teaching. I liked how this can dive into bigger social issues and not just impact one person but a larger population. It was nice that it could turn into an actual job, and I really liked the planning aspect. It’s interesting to see the impact of education through evaluation and I just liked the entire process. So I made a major out of it in undergrad and continued onto my master’s degree.
What is your favorite program to teach? Why?
I like teaching all programs but I have to say my favorite would be middle school, specifically the 7th and 8th graders. It’s a time where there is a lot of transitioning bodily and mentally as well as a lot of miscommunication from either media, friends, or family and it’s always nice to see those moments of clarification.
What's the best question you've had to answer?
The questions that I particularly like answering are questions around relationships and deciding for themselves if they are ready to have sex. “How do I communicate with my partner that I am not ready?” I always enjoy answering any question that has to do with advice. This is also stuff I wish I had gotten from health educators when I was younger.
What's one message around sexual health you'd like to send to young people?
I always like to include strong messaging around communication with a partner. Whether they hadn’t had relationships, are considering a relationship or have been in a relationship with the person for a long time, I always like to drive home that message. I like to talk about communicating around STI testing and I tell my students to make a date out of it and go to the clinic together. Part of the messaging is to de-stigmatize the process of getting tested and also to normalize what a healthy relationship should look like.
What is your favorite part about teaching sex ed?
My favorite part about teaching sex ed here at Health Connected is getting to teach different curricula and going to different schools. I like working with different groups of students and teachers, and ultimately being that moment in the student’s life where they remember learning something that will stay with them for a long time.
Did you have sex ed as a teen? If yes, what was it like for you? If not, do you wish you had had it?
In 5th grade we had two days of education around the reproductive system however boys and girls were separated which didn’t allow males or females to learn about the opposite sex. They talked to us [girls] about the menstrual cycle and other puberty topics. It left us very curious about the bodies of the opposite sex since they didn’t talk to us about it. In high school I had Sociology for Living which included a very basic sexuality lesson from a book. I didn’t really feel challenged by it. I did the learning on my own by reading the book and filling out a handout. The information given was very basic. Fortunately, I have a very open relationship with my mother so if I ever had any questions I would just ask her.