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Health education and promotion grad is a triple threat

November 30, 2018

Jennifer Moreau turned a health advocacy course project into real change in her community

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

The streets in Jennifer Moreau’s Austin, Arkansas, neighborhood are saferAccording to a July 2017 National Center for Statistics and Analysis report, speed bumps in streets can break the speed of any vehicle up to 90 percent. thanks to a campaign to install speed bumps that she conceived, launched and saw through to victory.

After observing the alarming number of cars that sped around her corner lot, the online health education and promotion graduate of Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions — and concerned mother of two — decided to take action and presented a policy brief she wrote for her health advocacy course to her city council, which approved the measure.

It’s the perfect example of one of the lessons Moreau learned as a student at ASU: “You have to work for things, and you have to make things happen.”

But she didn’t stop at speed bumps.

Spurred on by the success of that endeavor, Moreau recently ran and was elected to the Austin City Council, where she plans to continue advocating for better public health policies. In the spring, she’ll also begin studying for her master’s degree in psychology through ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“Throughout my health education degree, I realized there was a lot more to health than diet and exercise. You can talk to someone until you are blue in the face about diet and nutrition, but that does not mean they are going to change their ways and be healthier,” she said, adding that she plans to focus now on behavioral health and “try to really get inside the minds” of her clients.

Moreau talked to ASU Now about becoming a triple threat in the health field — mastering mind, body and policy.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: I have always loved the subject of health. Once my kids were old enough to attend school, I started substitute teaching. I realized quickly that my favorite subject to sub for was physical education. A year after I began teaching, I enrolled myself in school here at Arizona State majoring in health education. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: There are so many things I have learned while attending ASU; I gained experience in my field, learned new skills, (learned to) handle pressure situations, achieved greater self-control, and I am better at adapting to situations. I would say the biggest takeaway that shifted my perspective was the knowledge that was presented to me, and how it was presented to me. The information that I received from Arizona State was up-to-date, extremely thorough and delivered in a creative way. My view of health, teaching health and our so-called “obesity epidemic” is forever changed.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose Arizona State University because it is recognized globally as a top-ranked innovative college dedicated to finding solutions for today’s greatest challenges. I wanted to be a part of that — a part of something great. When I mention Arizona State to people, that commands a certain amount of respect. I am truly proud of the work I have done here.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: That would have to be Dr. Shawn Hrncir. She is an incredible teacher and mentor. I grew the most during her class, and she continues to push me and support me to this day. She taught me how to create my own opportunities. Her class was tough, but it was worth it. It showed me that life does not hand you anything. Just like jobs do not fall on your lap and dreams do not just happen. You have to work for things, and you have to make things happen. She taught me how to reach out, talk to people and to connect and network to achieve my goals.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Take charge of your own learning! College places you in situations where the answers do not always come easily, but you have plenty of opportunities to take your learning into your own hands and find a way to acquire the skills you need. Also, try and enjoy it. It goes by fast. I am getting ready to graduate, which is awesome, but the journey has been the best part.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be sworn in to the Austin City Council on Jan. 1. My next steps after that are to watch, learn and tread lightly. I have to find out what issues are facing the city and research them before I can take action. People always think they know what is going on, but the truth is I will not know how things work until I get in there. I’ll also be continuing my education with a master’s (degree) in psychology. … Health of the mind is just as — if not more — important than health of the body. I want to focus now more on behavioral health and try to really get inside the minds of my clients. I will continue to work as a fitness instructor and personal trainer at Little Rock Air Force Base and pursue the other side of health through policy by being on city council.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: In one word, health. There are large racial, socioeconomic and geographic disparities in health, but they need to be understood within the context of the larger national disparity. As far as I am concerned, all Americans are far less healthy than we could and should be. Socioeconomic status is a central determinant of the distribution of valuable resources in society, which means that life in America is not just better at the top, it is also healthier and longer. There are many ways to tackle this issue, but it starts with our youth and health education. I know there are promising approaches from around the country that are making a difference now; I would put even more money toward this.

Emma Greguska

Editor , ASU News

(480) 965-9657

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Graduate plans to shine light across the globe

November 30, 2018

Solar energy engineering master's degree student Siddhu Immadisetty found his calling to bring energy to remote areas thanks to his experience in Africa

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates.

When Arizona State University student Siddhu Immadisetty woke up every morning last summer in the Masai Mara preserve in southwestern Kenya, it was to the sound of hyenas whooping.

Immadisetty spent two months living in a tent in the remote area, working to improve an education center’s solar grid.

“It was a very unique experience that every person in ASU should be doing to get out of their comfort zone and get used to people and cultures they don’t know and do something good for the society,” he said.

Now, Immadisetty is graduating from ASU with a professional science master’s degree in solar energy engineering and commercialization. He plans to devote himself to bringing light to the developing world.

Even though Immadisetty grew up in Hyderabad, India — a city of almost 7 million — the setting in Africa was familiar. It reminded him of trips to visit his grandmother in a rural village back home.

“I have a sense of how a village and all those situations and conditions could be,” he said. “I was expecting how things would be, so it made my life easier. I told my friends it was just like a small village in India.”

Immadisetty went to Kenya for a U.S. Agency for International Development project. ASU pairs with the federal agency through the Global Development Research program offered in the School of Sustainability to match grad students with projects across the globe.

“It was an interesting project,” he said. “I never imagined I would be going to Kenya.”

After graduation, he plans on getting a full-time job to gain experience (and pay off his student loans). “My future plans are to go back to developing countries and implement some of the knowledge I have gained,” he said.

Question: Why did you choose ASU? 

Answer: Before I came to ASU … I realized I should be doing something besides my studies where I can get culture and international exposure. I went to ASU and found my program. I looked at some of the information — ‘Oh, 135 countries at ASU.’ It’s very diverse, multicultural and unique. Having about 13,000 international students, it’s really a wonder. … This is a university where I can be a global citizen, so I applied for it and got into the program. I’m very happy I’m in the program. We went to San Diego, to install (photovoltaic) modules on a low-income Indian reservation community. We literally climbed the roof and drilled and placed the rails and installed the modules on them, all by ourselves. I never imagined my program has got that unique opportunity. I was really proud I was enrolled in this program where I got to do all kinds of different things.

 Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

 A: When I came here last August, everyone on the road used to wave at me and say, ‘Hi, hello.’ It’s really good. … University is very different; people want to keep to themselves, but I haven’t seen something like that here at ASU. People are very friendly. The good thing I like here is everyone is willing to offer their help to whatever extent they can. I have learned the helping nature very much. I’m used to that only after coming here. I’m also now very ready to offer my help and am helping all my friends and others here. Helping nature is the main thing I have learned here.

 Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

 A: As part of this Global Development Research Program, we also need to take a supplemental course called International Development Theory and Practices. It’s taught by Dr. Milan Shrestha of the School of Sustainability. He’s a tough guy. He’s a tough professor, but at the same time I go to learn a lot from him because I was falling behind in grades and assignments. I had some interactions with him and he said he had gone through the same phase, assuring me that it’s part of student life. We should just be keeping up with the pressure and the work and never be afraid of what grades we are getting; what we are learning is more important. I really think the conversation we had was very useful to me to progress in my life.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: ASU is very huge; it’s a big campus, so many students here, and so many resources available, events, programs, whatnot, everything is happening now, even as we are speaking. At the same time you can’t be involved in all the things. I would suggest to the students take the most from ASU, as much as you can. It’s the important thing. … The more you learn, the more resources you have here.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

 A: It’s very hard, because ASU Tempe campus itself is very beautiful and elegant, having different unique structures. Every structure has its own good thing, like the (Memorial Union) where you have the palm trees and the lights in the night. I really feel it’s an excellent place. It’s something kind of a movie feeling for me, like a Hollywood movie. … It’s always very lively, with students coming and going and eating.

 Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

 A: As a child I always dreamt of building an education institution myself, because I believe education has changed me a lot. There are so many people in the world lacking education, lacking other facilities, but education is more powerful than other things. Once you are educated, your brain starts to think for the solutions. Collectively we all work together and we will keep progressing. It’s the basic tool that will explore different things, so I would invest in education.

Top photo: Solar energy engineering and commercialization graduate student Siddhu Immadisetty poses for a portrait on the ASU Tempe campus on Nov. 19. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now