Spring 2017 graduate Eunice Pokua Adu, who served as a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant (SLTA) during the spring semester, received the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences’ 2017 Health Science Professional and Academic Excellence Award. The award recognizes a senior in the Health and Human Performance Department for academic achievement and a commitment to the field of community health.
Adu, who majored in health and physical education with a concentration in health science, was also selected to give the valedictory address at her department's graduation ceremony.
Adu was the SLTA for Professor Joan Richardson’s HPEX 391 Community Health Promotion in a Global Environment service-learning course. The course included a trip to rural areas in Jamaica to conduct health screenings and promote health education.
“We screened people for high blood pressure and glucose levels and performed vision and BMI checks," Adu said. "We also educated them on how to be healthy through lifestyle changes.”
Originally from Ghana, West Africa, Adu was a student in HPEX 391 before serving as the SLTA. She said service-learning allowed her to work in the field and gave her the opportunity to utilize all her classroom knowledge while gaining Ieadership skills. Under the direction of Richardson, Adu was also able to create a partnership between VCU and a faith-based nonprofit in the U.S. that enabled students to connect with a rural, underserved population and bridge the gap of cultural and language barriers.
Adu plans to further her education to continue to pursue a career in health policy. She currently works as a research assistant in the VCU Department of Health Behavior and Policy and for the Richmond City Health District as a health education specialist.
Adu encourages her fellow VCU alumni and current students “to go with what makes you come alive while meeting the needs of others.” She says that “the work of helping others has fulfilled me far beyond what any paycheck ever could, and focusing on my passion has always been my ultimate goal.”