Veronica is a knowledgeable public health professional with 18 years of experience in the nonprofit, government and academic sectors. Throughout her career, she has dedicated herself to issues of health promotion, disease prevention and health equity. Her professional and volunteer experiences have addressed tobacco education and prevention; chronic disease prevention and management; program implementation and evaluation; grant writing and grant management; strategic planning; community mobilization; and community-based participatory research.
Veronica was raised in southeastern Arizona, in Tucson and Douglas. She was the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Public Health degree in health education and health promotion from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Veronica is also pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in general psychology from Grand Canyon University.
Veronica is currently an assistant professor of public health at GCU. In this capacity, she is responsible for directing the Master of Public Health program, teaching graduate courses in public health, curriculum writing, mentoring students and building linkages with the public health community.
Faculty Spotlight Questions:
I have always had a passion for science, with a particular interest in psychology. As an undergraduate, I took a health psychology course and became very interested in human behavior as it relates to health. At that point, I knew I wanted to work in the area of health, but I didn’t want to be a nurse or doctor. I began researching graduate programs and found the Master of Public Health degree. The focus of this degree is to train individuals to promote health and prevent illness. That was exactly what I had been searching for! My interest in health behavior fit nicely within the area of health education and health promotion. Before coming to GCU, I had the opportunity to work for the American Cancer Society in various roles addressing tobacco prevention, cancer prevention and control. I also worked for the Arizona Department of Health Services as advisor for cultural competency and health literacy and as director of chronic disease programs. Throughout my career, I most enjoyed the elements of my job that related to teaching, such as facilitating workshops and trainings as well as developing health education interventions. During that time, I also taught psychology courses for South Mountain Community College as an adjunct instructor, and it was that experience that sparked my interest to pursue teaching in higher education. I always knew I wanted to end up in academia and GCU provided me with that opportunity.
I feel compelled to contribute to the preparation of the next generation of public health and health care professionals. As an assistant professor, I see myself as more than someone who teaches content; I also guide, mentor and prepare students for their transition into the workforce. I am committed to and embrace this role as one I was meant to have. My interaction with students is what I enjoy most about being part of GCU and the college. “Find Your Purpose” is not only a statement that relates to students, but it also relates to faculty. I have definitely found my purpose in teaching public health and health sciences.
My advice to students is to volunteer for causes that interest you and in which you believe. Volunteering helps to develop important skills that prepare you for the workforce, but it also helps to foster a sense of purpose. When you work for a cause, you develop a passion for issues that motivates you to make a difference. Working for a cause leads to greater personal and professional fulfillment. I would also advise all students to embrace challenges as opportunities to grow and learn. Rather than say “I can’t do this” when faced with a new challenge, say “I’ll figure out how to do this.” Succeeding when things are difficult helps to develop you into the person and professional you are meant to be.