Rajika Reed, M.Ed.’06, a former volunteer in the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center, recently joined the staff of the full-service center for students as a health promotions coordinator.
In the new role, Reed, who has completed graduate work in education and public health administration, works closely with peer educators, and helps to promote the programs and services of the health center.
“This role is a perfect fit for me,” says Reed. “It allows me to draw on my experiences and expertise in both of my fields of study, and to combine them to implement my work. Hopefully, I can even expand my work to include new and innovative projects.”
Reed works directly with three main peer educator groups through the center: Sexperts, which focus on promoting safe sexual practices; Healthy Hawks, which educate and promote healthy eating and living; and Fresh Airs, which promote smoking cessation programs and educate the Lehigh community about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke.
“Our Sexperts have been working on sexual health education on campus, and do many programs for residence halls, sororities and fraternities,” says Reed. “Our Healthy Hawks work on the promotion of a healthy lifestyle with a focus on nutrition through programs in residence halls. We also work with sororities and fraternities and work closely with dining services to implement an environmental change on campus.”
The Fresh Airs, she adds, are looking into policy issues around the promotion of a smoke-free campus, and highlight national events such as the Great American Smoke-Out and Kick Butts Day here on Lehigh’s campus.
Reed came to Lehigh to earn her second graduate degree after nine years in the public health arena, covering a wide range of positions that included direct services and community health research, which she most recently performed at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
“I enjoyed and learned a lot from each position, but always liked and found the health education angle effective, so I decided to pursue a degree in education,” she says.
Susan C. Kitei, director of the Health and Wellness Center at Lehigh, says that Reed’s obvious passion and enthusiasm for her work helps her inspire students she works with.
“Raj’s personality and demeanor are such that students both feel immediately comfortable with her and respect her at the same time,” says Kitei. “Her background
in public health helps her to see the big picture, while her education degree helps her get the job done.”
A major draw for Reed at Lehigh was the opportunity to work directly with students.
“I really enjoy that aspect of the job,” Reed says. “The students are so motivated and responsible, and I’m constantly impressed by their dedication and their commitment to their work. I think we’re developing a very strong and nurturing working relationship.”
Reed earned her bachelors of science degree from Penn State, and went on to study public health at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her master’s degree. She was awarded her Master of Education from Lehigh last September.