Creativity in Public Health
Victoria Somerville attended Sedona Charter School from grade 1 through grade 8, graduating in 2005. “I think my favorite teacher was Bob Wentsch—he was strict and gave us a good understanding of the value of boundaries. That’s where we began learning about time management, and that skill has been so important to me, especially as I got into high school and college,” she says. Victoria also enjoyed Upper Elementary teacher Deborah Williams: “She was so creative, and gave everything a fun spin.”
She enjoyed the strong friendships she developed at SCS and maintains to this day. Because of the individualized learning here, she and her friends constantly challenged each other to do more, to do better. By the time she completed our Middle School program, she says, “I had such a hunger for education.”
After graduating from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy (FALA), she went to work for the American Red Cross through the AmeriCorps program helping communities get prepared for disasters, such as earthquakes and fires. There, Victoria learned about the power of, and the need for, a public health education. She completed a B.A. in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in 2014, and a Master’s of Public Health, with an emphasis in Communication and Marketing, from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 2016. One of her notable accomplishments was to be inducted into the highly selective Delta Omega Honorary Society of Public Health – an organization that has included two U.S. Surgeon Generals and one U.S. President.
During her intensive college years, Victoria found that she missed having a creative outlet. Now she has found a way to blend creativity and public health education: Working for the George Washington University and Media Rez, Inc. on the development of a motion and voice-activated video game for young adults in recovery for drug addiction. The program is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Participants play a video game that reinforces refusal skills and healthy living messages, and they receive follow-up support using technologies such as text messaging.
“I am really enjoying using new technologies to relate health messages in new and interesting ways,” says Victoria. “In the future I would want to work for a university or a hospital—or maybe become a television script writer specializing in health issues.”
Her advice: “Embrace uncertainty because life is uncertain. Nothing is permanent—good or bad. Taking risks, even if they don’t work out, can provide you with great insight and helps you to hone in on what you truly want.”