Meet Micah D.

Community and Public Health Graduate

“Now, more than ever, is the time to start in a field like this. We really need people out there helping the community.”

Micah Dukes was looking for a career where she could make a real difference in her community, and when she found Hudson Valley’s Community Health Navigation (now re-named Community and Public Health) associate degree two years ago, it seemed like a perfect match.

Community health navigation is a relatively new field - one that combines social service work with a strong knowledge of health care and a willingness to get out and proactively engage and help community members.

A four-month internship she spent with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County during her senior year led to a job offer and now, as she finishes up her studies, she’s working at a job that has her reaching out to members of the community who need one-on-one help in resolving a variety of issues.

“I knew coming into this program that I wanted to help people,” she said. “I wanted to work with marginalized communities, people dealing with mental health issues, low income, people of color, and I think this is a good start in terms of my career. I just think it’s really important to help people improve the quality of their lives.”

Community health navigation and the careers that come with it cover a broad swath of outreach initiatives. In her current role at Cornell Cooperative Extension, for example, Micah works on the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which helps people heat and winterize their homes. She also assists with the Healthy Neighborhoods Program, which focuses on scheduling and providing at-home visits to identify environmental hazards like lead paint and just generally helping residents make their homes safer and healthier.

“As part of the Healthy Neighborhoods program, we have the opportunity to educate people, maybe make some referrals to outside agencies and just have products and things they might need to make their homes healthier. For example, if asthma is a concern in the home, we can have a nurse come in and figure out what some of the asthma triggers might be.”

Starting her degree at Hudson Valley will allow Micah to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program and continue her education in the field of public health, she said.

“Definitely a good choice to start at Hudson Valley. I’m saving money that I can now use as I think about moving on to a four-year degree. Now, more than ever, is the time to start in a field like this,” Micah said. “We really need people out there helping the community.”