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HPW Grad Finds Meaning in Helping Moms, Families

UL Online -- Mon, 12/03/2018 - 8:51am

Lively and effervescent, Kailey Hanks is well-suited for the outreach roles her online health and wellness degree prepared her to tackle during the last three years. But the fully online bachelor's program was not the now 26-year-old’s first stop on the way to a career.

Kailey began her studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette after high school, pursuing nursing in the mold of family members who had gone before her. But the Crowley native, like many new college students, began exploring other career paths.

Through a friend, Kailey learned the University offered a kinesiology degree in Health Promotion and Wellness, which would allow her to shift her focus from patient care to community education.

Kailey Hanks completed her kinesiology degree online with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

“It sounded like a good fit for me between my prerequisites and what I wanted to do,” Kailey says. “If it wasn’t direct hands-on care (nursing), I could help people healthwise so many different ways.”

The program would also let Kailey get her degree — a bachelor’s in kinesiology — completely online.

How did she feel about moving from a classroom to online?

“I can’t even tell you how much I loved it,” Kailey says. “I took 18-19 hours a semester so my plate was super full, but it was so doable. It took a lot of hard work and time management. But I got to manage my time on my own.”

Through that time management, Kailey was able to customize a timetable to complete her coursework in about three semesters.

Health Promotion & Wellness offers an array of career possibilities, and Kailey says she was able to direct her studies according to her interests.

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

Following graduation, Kailey passed the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist, or CHES. 

Health Promotion and Wellness Program Coordinator Lisa LeBlanc says the certification is the nationally recognized standard for Health Educators and Community Health Workers.

Kailey showcased that advanced professionalism through projects and events in her roles as a case manager and program manager for area nonprofit The Family Tree and then as a health specialist for United Way’s Early Head Start program.

In her role at The Family Tree, Kailey collaborated with a colleague to develop and implement a breastfeeding education program. The program focused on teaching clients through home visits about starting and sustaining breastfeeding, as well as feeding their babies after breastfeeding ends.

“What made me proud about that is it was a direct implementation of the CHES of core competencies,” Kailey says, “looking at the population to determine the best way to learn, come up with a plan, implementation, then re-evaluating the approach as to what is and is not working.”

After Kailey shifted into a new position with United Way — focusing more on programmatic intervention versus one-on-one — she organized a Fit Family Fun Day community event to expose and educate parents and their children about healthy lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise.

She contacted Baton Rouge fitness company JiggAerobics to host an exercise class; Kevin Guidry’s produce presented information on healthy eating; Planet Fitness donated membership prizes; and community service providers, including The Family Tree, were on hand to provide information and answer questions.

“It was not only fun, but also relevant,” Kailey says. “Every little encounter with a positive approach is better than none. I was excited to bring that all together.”

Learn about the many paths open through this fully online kinesiology bachelors degree and how you can get started by requesting more information or emailing us at online@louisiana.edu, or explore our other undergraduate degree programs