Empowering Public Health: A Journey from Alumna to Course Director and Non-profit Founder

Roberta S., MPH '20

Roberta S., MPH ’20, found herself on an unexpected path when she reconnected with her old friends Michelle H., Dean of Dental Hygiene at WCU and Debi G., Executive Director of Curriculum and Assessment at WCU, through a dental hygiene association.

Encouraged by Debi to apply for a teaching position at West Coast University, Roberta, who had been teaching at another school, joined WCU as a clinical and lab instructor for biochemistry in 2016.

Teaching at WCU was a fulfilling experience for Roberta. She found joy in sharing her knowledge with students and learning from them.

“I really loved teaching there. It’s wonderful because you learn so much from teaching,” Roberta said.

Inspired by her teaching experience, Roberta decided to pursue further education and enrolled in the online Master’s in Public Health program at WCU.

The MPH program appealed to Roberta because of its comprehensive curriculum, covering various aspects of public health. The program’s flexibility allowed her to complete her coursework from anywhere.

Despite being virtual, Roberta felt connected to her professors and cohort, describing the experience as being part of a family.

“The instructors were very interesting and always available to answer a question or help,” she said, adding that her cohort also proved to be a valuable resource. “You felt like you were part of a family.”

The program’s community health component had a profound impact on Roberta, providing her with a new perspective on global health issues. This newfound awareness motivated her to make a difference beyond the classroom.

In addition to her role as course director for biochemistry and nutrition at WCU, Roberta is the founder of “United Tooth Fairies,” a non-profit organization that provides oral health care services to girls aged 4-15 in Guatemala.

Through United Tooth Fairies, Roberta and her team have been able to make a tangible impact on the lives of these girls, providing them with essential dental care and education.

For Roberta, the most rewarding aspect of her work is seeing the girls grow, stay in school, and pursue education, knowing that she has played a part in their journey.

“You feel so good inside that you can help somebody,” Roberta said. “Watching these girls grow and stay in school and get educated is a reward itself.”

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.