Arletha Murray, MPH

What is your favorite public health experience and why?

“I was blessed to have been chosen to support the San Francisco FBO (Faith Based Organization) community as they fought against COVID exposures at their local organizations. I helped to ensure they received prevention support and were aware of the ever changing guidance and policies impacting faith communities during the pandemic. Although I brought years of experience working in the community faith, March 2020 – June 2021 was the first time I was activated as a Disaster Service Worker during a pandemic to serve. It was a great experience to work in exposure mitigation and response!”

What is your proudest public health moment and why?

“Completing my Masters program/obtaining my MPH Degree! 3 years of full-time coursework while working two jobs throughout the program presented many challenges. I owe all thanks to God and my community of family and friends who poured into my life and made sure I felt the support! I’m grateful to have walked across the stage at San Jose State University Spring 2017 with my parents linked on both of my arms. That “public health” moment will remain in my heart forever.”

What has been your most challenging public health experience and why?

“Working in disease prevention, while many loved ones have passed away or are currently living with chronic diseases, while battling the numerous health inequities that continue to plague our communities. Health inequities have impacted the quality of life for myself and so many others I love. I do my best to educate those around me about ways to live healthy, while recognizing education isn’t the ONLY factor to abide by for someone to live a healthy life: PEOPLE NEED RESOURCES! Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs -physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization shows us that reality. So many communities are at a deficit when it comes to basic needs due to inequities. This is an ongoing challenge, which highlights the need to ensure health equity is at the forefront of all of our work.”

Why do you care about public health?

“I’ve lost many family members and friends to chronic illness and disease. Public Health is all about protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. I stand on the shoulders of some phenomenal souls that were “Public Health professionals” in their own right. Although many have passed away, I know they’ll continue to strengthen me along the journey so that I can continue to protect and improve communities.”

What is your public health story?

“In a few words “each one teach one”. I’ve learned so much from some of the “heavy hitters” in the Public Health arena. I was fortunate enough to be a student in classrooms led by some amazing Public Health Professionals/Professors! Dr. Kathleen Roe, Dr. Monica Allen, Dr. Edward Mamary, Dr. Daniel Perales, and Dr. Anji Buckner (just to name a few). Each of these educators brought their own personalities and lived experiences into the classroom. They showed me that you can have a career in Public Health and a LIFE! I saw them do it (obtain multiple degrees, have families, teach college courses while completing research, etc.). I owe them thanks for the years of insight and education. Today, I’m giving back by teaching a Health Communications class at San Jose State University as an Adjunct Professor! My story will always include giving flowers to those that have pathed the way, and poured into my life.”

What public health advice would you like to give?

“KNOW YOUR TRANSFERABLE SKILLS!! I was informed that I had “zero” public health experience before becoming a Health Educator… upon closer inspection, I had 10+ years of public health experience due to the transferable skills I developed through the years as a classroom teacher! Not only did I bring 10+ years of experience by teaching students in the public and private sector while working with diverse communities throughout the Bay Area, I also created a public health curriculum for elementary students as a graduate student during my MPH program! Don’t EVER let someone’s “denial” of your experience dictate your destination in the Public Health field. If you come from a “different field” be sure to know how to speak to your transferable skills, and why they can serve as assets to ANY organization.”

Anything else you’d like to share?

“I taped a Health Educator position description on my wall as an undergraduate… looked at it daily… and saw myself working as one. Fast forward to today = my dreams have become my reality. It all starts with a dream… see yourself in the FUTURE. I’m rooting for each and every one of YOU!”

Who do you want to nominate to be featured next?

“The woman who introduced the field of Public Health to me as an undergraduate student: Dr. Kathleen Roe!! Amazing human being with a heart to help others. She’s the epitome of SERVICE!”

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