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Health Promotion and Wellness coordinator helps students find strengths, direction

UL Online -- Mon, 09/27/2021 - 3:50pm

 

Finding direction in life happens differently for everyone. 

Lisa LeBlanc, program coordinator for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Health Promotion and Wellness online degree program, knows this very well. LeBlanc is particularly adept at guiding online students — many of whom are working full-time, have families, or are just looking for a new career path — to find engaging careers where they can thrive. 

After all, LeBlanc’s path resembles many of her students’.  

Path to online education

LeBlanc grew up in Lafayette, but even with the state’s second-largest university in her back yard, college wasn’t initially part of her plans. She earned an associate degree in electronics and — like many in South Louisiana — went to work for an oil field services company. 

Her job provided financial security and helped LeBlanc support her husband and daughter through school. But she wasn't passionate about the work, and eventually LeBlanc decided it was her turn to pursue her education.

LeBlanc completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education with a concentration in Health Promotion and Wellness at UL Lafayette and left her old job behind to teach as an adjunct instructor for the University. 

“I stumbled upon the [Health Promotion and Wellness] concentration when I began college and thought it provided a great mix of content and career opportunities,” says LeBlanc. “When working in the oilfield service industry, I realized that there was no wellness support or education offered and it was a very stressful job.”

When the College of Education offered her a full-time opportunity to teach in the School of Kinesiology, she embraced the opportunity and soon found herself at the helm of an all-new online degree program. 

One of the first fields of study to be taught online at the University, Health Promotion and Wellness focuses on the skills and knowledge necessary to work in community health education and related professional roles.

"It's specialized in its curriculum, but you can do lots of things with it," LeBlanc says. "So, it just depends on the student."

Experience points in action

Pivoting from the oil field to a career in academia, LeBlanc is pragmatic and encouraging with her students. She understands students are frequently balancing the work they must do to survive with the course work that will allow them to secure a career they are interested in or passionate about, whatever that may be.

"We really work with them to find their interests. And that's how the internship or the capstone really helps,” LeBlanc says.

The capstone and internship help students understand the applications of what they've learned in their classes and what kinds of roles they are drawn to in practice.

“The curriculum does a good job of exploring potential career paths, so you have an idea of what to pursue after graduation,” says alumna Olivia Larkins. “The program has a very broad area of study, so it really gives you the opportunity to pursue your specific interests. ...The program showed me there were a lot of opportunities to pursue health education careers.”

A constant in LeBlanc’s work has been preparing students to sit exams through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. LeBlanc herself is a Master Certified Health Educator through NCHEC.

Being prepared for the exam is important to LeBlanc because she wants all her students to have a competitive edge in the labor force and NCHEC certification means employers can trust graduates possess a universally recognized set of competencies in the field.

Larkins also felt the curriculum is well matched to the material covered in the exam. 

“With any degree that comes with the opportunity for credentialing, I think it’s very important to take the exam, especially since the program does a really good job to prepare you for it,” she says. “It just felt natural to take the exam once I graduated, almost as a culminating exercise after everything I had worked on.”

Opportunities in Health Promotion and Wellness

LeBlanc is a great ambassador for Health Promotion and Wellness. While she’s taught specialized classes such as Health Behavior Theories and Models, Clinical Experience in HPW, Health Promotion Program Planning, and Organization Funding Strategies, she also advises freshmen in the School of Kinesiology. 

She’s always ready to explain with nuance and enthusiasm what this coursework can do in the real world. That level of support is a hallmark of the Health Promotion and Wellness faculty, who are accessible to their students and invested in their success. 

“I loved the staff involved with HPW from the instructors to the advisors,” says alumna Kailey Hanks. “They were above and beyond as far as caring for your success and advising based on what’s right for you.”

For LeBlanc, being a part of a caring and supportive faculty is the realization of her own educational experience. 

“My experience in the HPW classes provided the foundation for all I do today because of the faculty, advising and support I received,” she says.


Ready to find where your skills and passions can make an impact? Request information today on the B.S. in Kinesiology in Health Promotion and Wellness concentration.