From the category archives:

Everyday Hopkins

IMG_8030_edI’ve always felt for people who don’t have the means or resources to do things for themselves. I try to give back as much as possible.

For several years following college, I was homeless in Dallas. I lived on a series of couches and my car for the better part of three to four years. I moved to Las Vegas to refocus my life and my direction. You wouldn’t think it’s the place people go to retreat from chaos. Fortunately, I don’t gamble and I had so many skills I could put to good use: hairstyling, makeup artist, being a personal stylist, executive assistant to several models, a professional photographer, writer, graphic designer, the list goes on.

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IMG_7956I am an occupational therapist and certified hand specialist at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. I specialize in providing therapy for the whole arm and the hand so people can regain function and independence in their life.

At The Johns Hopkins Hospital, we get complex cases. Some of our patients come to us with wounds that are a result of a stabbing, an accident, surgery or even a gunshot. We are dealing with people who have lost the ability to use the hand, and that can be frustrating. So we help patients with the physical component of regaining hand and arm function. We make custom-molded splints, perform manual therapy, and do strength training, to name a few of our services. We also work on scar tissue quality and therapy for tendon repair, making sure that they are moving and gliding properly and ensuring that the joints are operating at full motion.

But we also focus on the social component of gaining their trust and building a good relationship. I always try to make sure my patients leave with a smile. We see each patient over the course of eight weeks, on average, so relationship building is a very important part of what we do.

One of the most significant things I do during a therapy appointment is listen. Sometimes people just need an ear to bend because they are frustrated that they can’t return to work, or are experiencing financial trouble as a result of their injury. I believe that listening and empathizing, along with taking time to show them how to do their exercises at home, give patients the motivation to take responsibility for their recovery, which ultimately gives them power over their condition.

One of the things that make Johns Hopkins special is that we are an institution on the cutting edge of discovery. I wouldn’t get the same experience working elsewhere. There are only a handful of hospitals in this country that would do a hand transplant. Johns Hopkins is one of them! People with different ailments come here from all over the world because we have specialists with the ability to help them. I truly believe that people work at Hopkins because of the desire to do what is best for the patient.

On a more personal note, many people wonder how I got my nickname, Princess. My real name is Lourdes; it’s my mom’s name — apparently, she’s the queen and I am the princess. Growing up in the Philippines, my family called me Princess and it stuck.

My husband, Raphael, and I are both in health care. He is a physical therapy assistant working under the Johns Hopkins Home Care Group. We moved to Baltimore from New Mexico in 2014 after we had our daughter, Marloe, because we wanted to be closer to our family in New York. We fell in love with Baltimore and chose to work at Hopkins because this hospital is so client-centered and we knew it was a great place to continue our professional development.

I have been an occupational therapist for over 23 years, and I am still learning every day. I love that the work I do is challenging and that no two days are the same.

—Story written by Jennifer Wicks, Marketing and Communications

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William CurtisI am an East Baltimore native. My family and I lived close to Johns Hopkins, and my father used to work here. In my senior year of high school, he helped me get a weekend job in housekeeping. That was 24 years ago. I’ve been working at Johns Hopkins since 1993. Once I graduated, I worked in housekeeping full time for the next five years. Then, I was an associate in the ICU for another five years. After that, I worked night shift in the trauma unit. When I came to mechanical services, where I am now, I learned about the program that would change my life. There was an ad on the job board for a four-year plumbing apprenticeship. I applied and, luckily, was accepted into the program.

I went to school two days a week for four years and graduated with eight other people. The program took a lot of time, and it wasn’t easy, but I came out a licensed plumber and had an array of certifications and a raise to go along with it. The best part is that I have no student loans or debt. I have been a licensed plumber for four years now. With my apprenticeship, I didn’t have to pay for one book or tool. I just had to show up every day and do my best. Many of these programs will even work with your schedule.

My supervisor also started in housekeeping; in fact, we worked there together. Now he runs the shop as a master plumber. Next year, I can go for my master license, and I want to see where that will take me.

The typical day here varies. I focus on the backflow, and my job is to prevent contaminated water from getting back into the system. Let’s say that something is hooked up to the chemicals used in housekeeping. If that water becomes backed up, I make sure it won’t get into the drinking water. We also do a lot of new construction. We can take an empty room and make it into a bathroom. Sometimes we get emergencies, like pipes bursting. It’s busy, but we have a great team.

Hopkins is the only employer I’ve ever had, and I’m comfortable here; I love my job because this is a great place to work, and offers a wide range of opportunities and positions. I have worked with both patients and tools, and I can still go further — and I will.

I wish I would have used the programs sooner, but I didn’t have anyone to motivate me to do that. That is why I try to encourage as many people as I can to use the programs to move up. I tell them, “You can go from housekeeping to a nurse, and they pay for the full ride! You’ll go from a $10-per-hour job to a $30-per-hour career. If you want it, it’s available to you. Just keep checking the job board.”

Getting into the apprenticeship program is my most memorable day at Johns Hopkins. Learning this trade was a big move for me, and I’m ready to keep advancing.

—As told to Jennifer Wicks, Marketing and Communications

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Heather, Nurse and Cheerleader

Photo by Chris Hartlove

I am a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. My colleagues did not know for a very long time that I am also a Washington Redskins cheerleader. It felt as if I was living two separate lives. But, of course, over the years they figured it out.

I’ve been cheering since I was 6 years old. My mom really pushed my sister and me to be active, so I decided to try out for our recreational cheerleading team. That’s where it all started.

In middle school, I danced for a hip-hop troupe. Then, in high school, I cheered for our varsity basketball and football teams. In addition, I cheered competitively and did some gymnastics. In college at The Johns Hopkins University, there wasn’t a collegiate cheer or dance team, so I auditioned for the local NFL team’s cheerleading squad. I didn’t expect to make it, but I did. I spent three years on that team while I was attending JHU, before becoming a Redskins cheerleader.

This season will be my fourth with the Washington Redskins. There are 34 of us on the squad and I am one of the four co-captains. We cheer at every Redskins home game—two preseason and eight home games during the regular season. We don’t travel to away games, unless we go to the Super Bowl, which hopefully will happen at some point during my time as a Redskins cheerleader! My mom comes to every single game. She is definitely my biggest fan.

Cheering on the field during a nationally televised game with thousands of fans in the stadium is so exciting. To prepare for the upcoming NFL season, we start training in April. We practice two to four times a week. Our rehearsals are rigorous. We start with a team workout, followed by stretching and practicing different dance techniques. Then we rehearse the dances that we will be performing at the next game or public appearance.

Our sideline dances are especially versatile because we have to perform them to whatever music is playing at that moment—we never know what it’s going to be. One of the captains will call a particular dance and the rest of the team will pick it up on the spot.

Game days can be long. We’re at the stadium six hours prior to kickoff, the games are about four hours long and sometimes we do a show afterward. I might spend anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week dancing in addition to my job as a nurse.

If you told me I worked 80 hours a week, I wouldn’t believe you. I love both of my jobs so much, for completely different reasons. I don’t know if I could do one as well without the other.

My passion for nursing was sparked through cheerleading. When I first became an NFL cheerleader, we visited a few local hospitals, including the old Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. At the time, I was a pre-med major. I knew that I wanted to help people and thought that I wanted to be a doctor. During these appearances, I witnessed that the nurses were the ones providing hands-on care, standing by the patient and helping the families. That’s when I decided to switch my major from pre-med to nursing.

I absolutely love being a pediatric ICU nurse. There is something about kids—they are just so innocent and resilient and, at times, really funny. My favorite part of the job is when we are able to nurse a child back to health and they get to go home. The wins are sometimes few and far between, so I’ve learned to celebrate the small victories like getting to see a child who has been here for months smile or laugh for the first time. It’s those little moments of joy, if only for a second, that you have to hold onto and keep with you as long as possible to help you get through the tougher times.

Dancing has always been a release for me. It helps me fill up my cup at the end of the day so I can come back to work the next day ready to care for another child.

The story was told to Laura Motel, communications specialist, Johns Hopkins Hospital Nursing

*Editor’s note: The NFL requests that its professional cheerleaders’ last names not be published.

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Jordan Tropf, fourth-year medical student and winner of the 2017 Baltimore Marathon. (Photo by Ian Johnston)

Jordan Tropf, fourth-year medical student and winner of the 2017 Baltimore Marathon. (Photo by Ian Johnston)

Every fall, I pick one or two marathons to run. It’s something I like to do – I like to push myself and see how fast I can go. Running is something I look forward to at the beginning or end of every day and it gives me an opportunity to push myself outside of medical school.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I went to the Naval Academy with the goal of heading to medical school. After graduating in 2014, I moved to Baltimore to attend med school at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I consider Baltimore my home. Since it’s my last year in med school, I finally decided to do my “home” race course: the Baltimore Marathon. I usually do the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. around this time.

I started running in high school, when my cross country team won the state championship my senior year. I continued running at the Naval Academy, where I realized the 26.2-mile marathon was a better distance for me. I’ve been running marathons since my sophomore year there.

Training this summer was challenging. I was away for three months for orthopedic sub-internships at the three big Navy hospitals: Portsmouth, San Diego and Walter Reed. I tried to build in a run every day and get out on weekends for longer distances. (I did a lot of running in the dark.) I like discovering new places to run when I’m away.

During the race, I felt good until the second half. I knew what to expect, I knew the hills were coming, but it started to work me a little bit. I’m familiar with Dave Berdan, a previous year’s marathon winner. I knew he was working on running me down, so I just focused on keeping my lead.

After the second half of that course, I was very, very happy to be over the finish line. There was so much support on the course and it was great to see a summer of hard work pay off. It goes down in the books as one of my favorite races, and I can certainly see myself coming back.

After I graduate in May, I’ll hopefully (applications are in!) do my residency either in a military or a civilian orthopaedic surgery program, and then serve time as a Navy doctor. I’m familiar with orthopaedic injuries from years of running, and exposure to orthopaedics in the military and in med school led me to pursue it as my specialty. It's also been great to see the amazing impact that surgeries and rehab have on patients' lives. This especially motivated me to pursue this specialty.

The blue Navy singlet is my race shirt. I wear it to every race I do. Since I ran on the Navy team a few years ago, it’s good to wear my home colors. It's an honor to represent the U.S. Navy. My favorite race of all time is the Marine Corps Marathon, which I have run in the past with the All-Navy marathon team. It’s always fun and it adds an extra level of competition. This year, though, I spectated and cheered on my fiancé, Hannah, as she ran it for the second time.

Eventually I want to hit all six major world marathons. I’ve never done a marathon internationally but want to do the ones in London, Berlin and Tokyo.

The big thing about running is that I do it for fun. My priorities are being a good med student and, in the future, being a great doctor. I definitely intend to continue running and dropping my times, no matter what my future holds.

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Everyday Hopkins David Maestos

I am a nontraditional graduate student. In my case that meant that after completing high school, I did not immediately go to college. For me, it took many years before I could. Our family couldn’t afford it and I wasn’t academically ready, so I began working in entry level jobs in fast food. Eventually I worked my way up the ladder and became manager of a training store, supervising crews of over 40 people at a time. While I wouldn’t say I enjoyed every aspect, I really loved working with my colleagues and training them. The higher I rose in that industry, the more I began to approach a glass ceiling because I lacked a formal education. The next promotion offered was to become a district manager, and this position would include a gigantic workload. Realizing that advancement would lock me into this industry, I did some soul-searching and really looked at my life as a whole. I asked myself, “Before my life ends, what are going to be my contributions to the world?” As a fast-food manager, I realized that I was selling things that were convenient, but typically impacted people's health long-term. I’ve seen people in terrible health, going back and forth to the hospital telling me things like, “The doctor says I really shouldn’t be eating this, but I can’t stop.” To me, it started sounding almost like we were selling a drug, not just convenient food.

I had a personal realization that the fast-food business isn’t helping to improve peoples’ lives; it had the danger of making them worse. In contrast, I wanted to make an impact and make people’s lives better. This desire led me to recognize that I wanted to be in the medical field, but not necessarily as a medical doctor. As a problem solver, biomedical engineering was the best option.

I had a lot of fears and doubts about going to college after working for years in industry. I am a first-generation college student. I enrolled at a community college, did well, and was asked to serve as a tutor for almost every subject they had available. I was thriving and realized once again that teaching and training people is what I love. I might have stopped after completing an associate degree, but my professors urged me to transfer to the University of Arizona. At the time, I honestly thought that was a high, lofty goal, but I took a shot and got accepted to their biomedical engineering program.

Around the same time, I saw on the news that there is a special biomaterial powder you can put on people’s wounds that could literally regrow fingertips. Recognizing how many wounded warriors and other people have lost limbs from disease, I knew regenerative medicine was something that truly resonated with me. The healing of tissues and organs and unlocking the body’s potential to do so became my passion.

I participated in an educational pipeline program at the University of Arizona, which helps underrepresented minority students transition to graduate programs. Although we all had the academic merit to attend graduate school, many of us were clueless on how the process works and how to improve our applications. Although I really resisted it, the program leaders encouraged me to apply for various graduate programs at prominent schools such as Johns Hopkins. I applied to other universities that I thought were a more realistic match and Johns Hopkins was more of a ‘reach’ school. To my shock, Johns Hopkins invited me to come in for interviews and now here I am—a Ph.D. student in the top-ranked graduate biomedical engineering program in the country. I love saying that. It was all thanks to those mentors and coaches who supported and encouraged me to apply in the first place.

What’s a day in the life of a Ph.D. student look like? I’m a second year Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff, director of the Translational Tissue Engineering Center (TTEC). I’ll start my day in the lab, try to catch up on emails, make plans for the week in terms of experiments, then go to class. Throughout the day it’s often a choice between homework and research. I almost always pick research. There is always something to be done: from isolating RNA from tissue, to figuring out gene expressions of an animal model to see if a particular wound treatment is causing it to heal or regenerate versus scarring, to characterizing immune system cell populations in specific tissues through flow cytometry. There are multiple meetings depending on the day, but I would say things are split among planning and preparing for experiments and performing them.

Of course, I do spend time outside the lab. Alone or with my fiancé, Ashlie, I love to travel, hike, read, write and find creative solutions to problems. This year I am also one of the co-presidents of the BME Ph.D. Student Council. I am a member of several clubs, and a recruiter and mentor for the new P-TECH program that Johns Hopkins works with at Dunbar High School. I tend to keep myself very busy, but I try to make sure to keep things in a healthy balance. Weekends are the best time for this as Baltimore has so many fun festivals and community events going on.

Looking to the future, I have a sincere interest in being a teacher. I feel that it’s my chance to give back. Perfectly in line with this, I was recently awarded a fellowship through the National Science Foundation’s graduate research fellowship program, which supports providing a broader impact to the communities in which our research occurs. When I work with students who come from the community and our undergraduate programs and they learn fast, that sparks my energy and excitement.

Experiences like this make me want to come to the laboratory and do more. I am currently living my dream: I wake up every morning and I love what I do!

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Jesse Grant

My first experience at Johns Hopkins was in the ER in 1994 — two young guys robbed me and shot me in the chest at Old Town Mall in Baltimore while I was driving a bus for the MTA. Luckily, Hopkins Hospital wasn’t far away. I heard the doctors say there was nothing they could do for me. I just kept asking God to save me and to get me through. And he did. Two weeks and five operations later, I was ready to be discharged. My daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, came around the corner, put her hand out and said, “Daddy, let’s go home.” It showed me that, no matter what happens, there is always somebody there who cares.

I became familiar with the Johns Hopkins campus during my 11 years driving for a contracted mobility company. On my fifth year, I met Bonnie Windsor, the vice president of HR at the time, who saw me in action and offered me a position at the hospital. I didn’t come to Hopkins at that time, but a few years later I applied and became patient ambassador. I’ve been at Hopkins for three years now.

I wear many hats as patient ambassador. I get here every morning at 7:30 and clock in at 7:45. My post is located at the main entrance of the hospital at 1800 Orleans Street. The first thing I do when I come through the door is see how many wheelchairs we’ve got. I need to make sure we have enough to get patients to their appointments. The next thing I do is make sure my podium is fully stocked. I call that my mobile office and it is where I keep cups, graham crackers, coffee, water and anything else a patient or visitor may ask for while they are waiting. If the information booth gets busy, I help out behind there. I help outside with security and traffic flow. You may see me by the Johns Hopkins sign on Orleans Street waving down cabs and directing the cars. I try to remember everyone’s name and give a smile to everyone I pass by. I don’t know what people are going through when they come to this hospital and that’s why I always try to be as nice as I can. A smile does a lot of justice. I want people to come back and say, “This guy gave us everything he had, and he did it professionally.”

I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and raised in Baltimore. My grandparents, who raised me, taught me how to cook and how to be a gentleman. I remember them saying that these skills would help me throughout my whole life. And they have. That’s why I am able to give such a high level of customer service. It was instilled in me early on.

My family and my faith keep me going. I have three daughters and one son. I also have four grandsons — Brandon (17), Jacob (4), Carter (4), and Jaden (2) — and they are the joys in my life. I have to be the best man I can be for my family and teach my grandsons how to be respectful. That’s what I try to tell some young folks. It’s all about respect. I know how hard it is to not have a mother or father in your life, but it’s not that hard that you can’t make it. I tell them, “You don’t know my background. You may see this smiling face looking happy every day. But if you understand what I’ve been through, you can make it too. You don’t have to go to the gang. You don’t have to go into the drugs. You might not have that mom and dad, but there’s somebody you can reach out to that can get you through and to make sure you don’t make these wrong turns.”

I am also excited to announce that I will be one of the “Gameday Ambassadors” for the Baltimore Ravens. I’ll never forget that day in August when they called me and asked, “Mr. Grant, how would you like to greet 71,000 people?” That phone call really made my day. I look forward to providing the fans the same level of customer service that I provide for every visitor in this hospital. I’m here to help.

You might not help everybody, but if you can help one person, that’s good. Thank God you helped somebody! Because we’ve got a lot of people out there that need it. One day, I’m going to need help. And I hope someone has my back.

Read what one patient had to say about Jesse Grant in August 2017.

— Jennifer Wicks

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Doretha Lewis

Everyday Hopkins: Doretha Lewis, Staff Assistant for General Services Training and Education

 

I was raised in East Baltimore. In the early 1970s, when I was 16 years old, I was recruited to work as a summer intern at Johns Hopkins through Dunbar High School and a program called Neighborhood Youth Corps as a pediatric nursing assistant. When I graduated high school three years later, I was asked to stay full time. I moved to Phipps where I was a psychiatric nursing assistant before leaving the workforce for 18 years to raise my family. I’m married with a son, a daughter and a cat named Summer. I also took this time to earn my AA degree in early childhood education.

In 2010, I felt I needed to get back into the workplace. I was drawn back to Hopkins. I remembered working here years ago doing bedside care and interacting with people — doing things to make them feel better. I’m always wanting to reach out and give to others as others have given to me. It’s reciprocal. So I went through an agency and eventually ended up with Intrastaff in mail services. My coworkers call me “Ms. D,” and when the word spread that Ms. D would be here permanently, everyone was pleased with the decision.

My job as a mail clerk was to retrieve mail from the loading dock, sort it, and organize it for delivery to the East Baltimore campus. Pushing, pulling and lifting the heavy mail gurneys was really something at first! We process a lot of mail — almost 3 million pieces last fiscal year. But, then I started looking at each piece of mail as a person. Each letter that comes into this hospital does represent somebody. Finding the value in every task handed to me and helping others is at the core of who I am.

In June, I was promoted to staff assistant for the General Services Training and Education department. I work with interns who were chosen to participate in a job training program that helps those receiving state assistance gain full-time employment after they intern for 15 weeks. I like to sit in on the classes and listen to people tell their stories about where they came from and what they aspire to accomplish. I enjoy hearing our staff tell the interns how they have to be accountable and responsible. Here, it’s all about patient care.

Working in mail services has prepared me for my new position because I have had the opportunity to demonstrate that I am responsible, reliable and diligent about my work. They could have chosen anyone for this position — someone with a higher education than I have, but God allowed this opportunity to come to me.

The program is called IMPACT. It trains the interns for service positions in the hospital. They do different jobs like security or transporting patients. And a lot of times, the interns are given a full-time job. My role is to follow up with them after they complete the program.

Last week, I called one young lady, a former intern from the program to follow up. She told me how grateful she was for this opportunity and that she was happy the Johns Hopkins training and educational center gave her that chance to better herself. Now she’s working on her second master’s degree. To hear that someone has been placed into our program and is now a success is the type of story that makes me feel good. She made me tear up.

It’s not that people can’t do. It’s just that sometimes people just need someone to help them to do. You never know who will come through those doors and what value they can bring to this institution.

 

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Hear how Dan and his team help bring Johns Hopkins care to a patient's bedside:

I was a firefighter for Baltimore City for 23 years, and I worked mostly in East Baltimore. I was at the station on Harford and Oliver Street, which isn’t far from The Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were very busy in this area, and I was often dropping patients off at Hopkins with an ambulance crew.

My title was emergency vehicle driver, and I drove the ladder truck. Usually our job was to put ladders up, do search and rescue and provide access, if doors needed to be taken out or windows needed to be taken out. “Sometimes we would arrive at a fire and the people outside would tell us there are people still inside. It was our job to go in and find them.”

I always had a positive impression of Hopkins. I remember our fire company responded to one fire back in 2001 on Broadway when some firefighters were injured. They brought one injured firefighter right down the street to Hopkins. He actually had an inhalation injury, and they brought him into the emergency room. The doctor who saw him did a trach on him and probably saved his life. That was one of the good things about working close to Hopkins.

After I retired in 2010, I spent about a year at home waiting for the grass to grow, so I decided to see what else was out there. I just read the job description and I was thinking what this department did would probably be a good fit for me. And it has been.

I’ve been working with Lifeline’s Hopkins Communication Center for seven years now as a communications specialist. After the Hopkins Access Line receives a call to transfer an outside patient and coordinates with bed management and admitting, I help in preparing and dispatching the crew to pick up the patient. We arrange the transportation, triage the call to find out what level of care they need and send out an ambulance to pick the patient up and bring them back to one of the hospitals in the Johns Hopkins Health System. My job is coordinating all of that and to make sure the right care team gets to the right facilities. A lot of times we’ll call the sending facility, whether it’s an outside hospital or urgent care center, and say, “Hey, we’ll be there in an hour to bring that patient into Hopkins,” and they’re so relieved to hear that because the patients often require specialized care that they need at our hospitals.

Now, I’m hearing everything over the radio, so it’s a little bit different than being out there on the scene as a firefighter. I don’t miss being out all night cold and wet in the winter time, putting out fires. I’m glad to trade that for the office. I found this job, and it’s been very rewarding and enjoyable.

Most people have no idea the magnitude of how many people are waiting every day for a bed at Hopkins, all the calls we’re handling, sending crews out to different places. We’re handling the emergency paging for the hospital, we’re handling discharges as well as all the people we’re trying to bring into the hospital. It’s constant very busy, not much down time.

I do a lot of bicycling on my days off, and have been doing it for years. In 2000, I rode from Los Angeles to Boston, which took 50 days. I pretty much plan my own trips now, things I want to do or get out for a long weekend or four days off and go plan out a ride. Some people can go swimming or take yoga. I get out on the bike and that’s my relaxation and stress reliever. I found one that worked for me so I’m sticking with it.

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Jill WEAVERLING_H

I have always been interested in health care, especially how people are educated about their health and how they can obtain the care they need when they need it. I’m sure this spawned from my family’s involvement in the field: my dad’s a family physician; my mom was a medical transcriptionist; and my aunt’s a physician’s assistant.

I obtained my undergraduate degree in public relations and my graduate degree is in women’s studies, with a concentration in women’s health. When I started taking women’s studies courses as an undergrad, I learned and studied a lot about race, class, gender and how they can affect an individual’s level of health, education and even access to quality care. During undergrad I did an internship in public relations at a local hospital back in Pennsylvania. My supervisor knew that women’s health was an interest of mine, so he let me spend a day at the clinic where people who were uninsured or underinsured could access care. While there, the clinicians were telling me stories about women who had come in with health issues because they were using Lysol to clean themselves. It really struck me, “How did they learn this? Where did they learn this?”

When I started working at a nonprofit health care organization right out of grad school, it was really about helping populations get the health care and information they needed. I later came to Johns Hopkins in January 2015 as a web content specialist for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. What I liked most about the role was being able to write and provide people with health information, so that if they had some type of condition and came to our website, they would be able to figure out “ok, this is what’s happening to me, or this is what I’m feeling, or these are the symptoms I’m having,” and then get to the person who could provide them with the best care.

I am now a web production and training specialist on the Internet Strategy and Web Services team for Johns Hopkins Medicine, which is part of the Marketing and Communications Department. Our team offers support to website editors throughout Johns Hopkins Medicine who need to edit a portion of their site, have questions about best practices, or who are looking to initiate a web project.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to work alongside my amazing coworkers. I actually always tell people that I work with the most fun and diverse group. Everyone is so on top of their game here. You always feel like everyone’s doing their part and it’s really just a great environment to be in.

I grew up on a farm in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. My grandparents lived right next door to our house (my brother and his wife live there now) and the farm has been in our family since my dad himself was younger. Later in life I’d love to have my own version of a “farmette,” with a mini pig and mini goat and a big garden!

Coming from a very rural area, my family has always been really crafty. We would make things we needed (clothes, toys, furniture) or just learn to do things ourselves. Around the age of 6, my mother and grandmother taught me how to crochet and make blankets and things on looms. When I started knitting, I was around 19 or 20. My mom taught me that as well, and when I got started, I made some really ugly things! But I just kept trying and trying and I got way better at it.  It’s even become a form of Zen for me.

Over time, I didn’t need more hats and scarves for myself, and started to think about how cool it would be if I made items that someone I didn’t know somewhere loved it enough to buy it. It was about three years ago that I opened my Etsy store, and it’s become a really fun hobby-business! But for me, it will always be rooted in how I learned my craft. It’s a skill that I’ve learned from the women in my family and plan to pass on to my own family someday.

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