Corryn Celmer

Corryn Celmer

Associate Director of Community Programming, Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center
Yankton, SD
Health Sciences, 2014, Master of Public Health, 2017

"My greatest piece of advice would be to maintain relationships and stay in contact with your professors, advisors, or department chairs. By fostering a positive and communicative relationship with them, you open yourself up to more opportunities than you realize."

Q&A with Corryn:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

I completed my Master of Public Health degree from USD in December 2017 and am excited to put what I learned into action. I currently work in Public Health Education and my master’s degree has equipped me with a better understanding of project management, implementation, and evaluation, as well as grant writing and policy analysis. This degree has also helped me become more involved and take on more responsibility within my organizations.

I currently hold two different titles for two organizations that are interconnected. Presently, I am the associate director of community programming with the Yankton Rural Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and work with many other non-profit organizations, hospitals and clinics, educational institutions, and professional organizations to promote health careers and public health issues and increase involvement in health careers in South Dakota. I also am the HPV marketing specialist for the National AHEC Organization’s CDC funded HPV Immunization Project. As one of four specialists working on this grant, I work with our AHEC centers across the nation on various marketing aspects of their projects. Our goal is to educate health professionals and health professions students on the importance of the HPV vaccine for boys and girls. As the marketing specialist, I work with our state entities on their newsletters, emails, social media, flyers about their various events and I work with our leadership team to disseminate important educational materials to the state entities and our other partners.

My goal for the future is to have a career working in public health, specifically in project management and ideally with the CDC. By surrounding myself with a strong educational background and the knowledge and experience of my fellow colleagues, I know I can achieve this goal one day.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

USD and the health sciences major had a major role in influencing my career path. I was invited to attend the Health Sciences Advisory Board Meeting during the spring semester of my senior year as a student representative. As students, we conversed with USD faculty, staff, and advisors, as well as directors and other representatives from community organizations in southeast South Dakota. Being able to interact in a professional manner and share my thoughts and experiences lead to an internship and a position with the Yankton Rural AHEC. I am delighted to stay in touch with faculty and staff at USD through many projects, as well as speak to health sciences classes on an annual basis to share my USD experience and my chosen career path. The Health Sciences Advisory Board fostered a relationship between my director and myself that has continued to grow. Classes within the School of Health Sciences improved my communication skills, problem-solving abilities, project management skills, heightened my leadership abilities, all of which are necessary to be involved on the leadership team for my current positions with the National AHEC Organization’s CDC HPV Immunization Project and at Yankton Rural AHEC. USD encouraged me to explore different health career options, maintain professional and personal relationships, and ultimately, to stay and work in South Dakota.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest achievement has been my involvement with the National AHEC Organization’s CDC HPV Immunization Project. My goal one day is to work for the CDC, preferably in project management, and working on this HPV project has allowed me to gain such valuable experience in such a unique niche of public health. I’ve been involved in this project for over three years now and have held two different positions. When the project first started, I interviewed for and was selected as one of ten regional coordinators in the nation. I was tasked with overseeing the projects and working with entities for six different states: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The next year, we went through a project redesign at the request of CDC; I applied for and was selected as one of four project specialists for the project in the nation. I focus my efforts on marketing and dissemination and work with entities involved in the project across the U.S. on various marketing, PR, and dissemination techniques.

It has truly been amazing to see how much a project can impact the education, awareness, and understanding of such an important public health issue like HPV. I am the youngest person involved in this project for our organization, but instead of feeling nervous or ill-equipped, I am confident and prepared for this leadership role due to the experiences I have had at USD and my work with Yankton Rural AHEC. I am proud that I get to work with such a diverse group of educated, passionate, and powerful people and am lucky to be able to work on a CDC funded grant initiative.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

I took on many roles in campus organizations and found that my involvement helped me become a better leader and more prepared for my career. Leadership positions in Panhellenic Council, Mortar Board Honor Society, and Student Ambassadors gave me the knowledge, skills and understanding of leading and managing a group of people who are working towards common goals. Panhellenic council allowed me to work with passionate and strong women who wanted to leave an impact on USD and the Greek community. As both Internal VP and External VP, I worked with all four sororities as well as the Vermillion community to bring about positive changes. In Mortar Board Honor Society, I was selected as secretary by my fellow members and worked closely with the executive team and advisors to assist in planning events as well as selecting new members for the following year. I became a member of Student Ambassadors my freshman year after speaking with my admissions counselor and other staff about my previous involvement in my high school’s ambassador organization. I loved being able to show potential Coyotes our historic buildings, share student opportunities, and talk about how happy I was to be a Yote. Having been involved in the organization for three years, I interviewed for the Executive Committee and was selected secretary. I was actively involved in monthly Ambassador meetings, Admissions team meetings, and various open houses or admitted students’ days. I probably could still give a campus tour almost four years later!

I was also an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta and SERVE USD in the Adopt-A-School program. Both organizations allowed me to work with and be surrounded by individuals who were serving others academically, philanthropically, and through leadership positions. Being involved in these organizations opened my eyes to how connected USD is to the Vermillion, Greek, and student communities.

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