It's been just short of five years since I returned back to the U.S. after my life-changing time as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to New Zealand. Prior to my time in NZ, which started in February 2011, I was pretty insistent on a career as a health practitioner but my experiences in New Zealand changed my future direction dramatically ... for the better.

Originally I had intended a career as either as a veterinarian, a physician or a pharmacist. I know - seems quite indecisive! And that's the point - I was paralyzed with indecision regarding my career prior to my scholarship period. As part of my scholarship, I attended the University of Otago where I sat for a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health. Here, I was able listen to and learn from some of the brightest public health professionals in the world - from epidemiologists to policy wonks and health economists. I was immersed in a similar yet new discipline - one that ultimately steered me away from a career as a practitioner and towards a career as a health communications professional.
When I returned home, I ended up matriculating to a prestigious pharmacy school in the US but a short while after I felt a calling to head in a different direction - one that would allow me to put the perspective and skills I learned at Otago to practical use. To make a convoluted story and little easier to follow, I ended up taking a job as a health care communications and public relations professional in New York City.
That was three years ago. Today, I now support communications on the latest advancements in oncology - for non-profit and profit-based companies alike. Ultimately, my goal is clear - find ways to inform patients of new options that are providing hope and longer, more "moment-filled" lives. It's a rewarding career and I've had to the chance raise awareness for cancer research and survivors, as well as remember those who lost their lives to the disease.
Without Rotary, I'm quite certain my path would have been different ... without Rotary I'm not sure that I'd be such a strong advocate and skilled communicator. My debt to Rotary goes beyond my year as an Ambassadorial Scholar and I try to remember that each day when I set out to communicate and inform the world about the excitement for new advancements in cancer treatment as well as the need for continued research to finally put an end to the disease.