“I did not fully grasp the impact of the injustices that my ancestors experienced until I was in my 20s. I loosely knew my Japanese-Australian grandmother and her family were interned during World War II. I knew she was a single mother, raising three children in post-war Australia and living below the poverty line. I knew my mother experienced racism in her home country. However, as the child of a white-American father and an immigrant, Japanese-Australian mother, I was shielded from much of this while growing up in a middle-class neighborhood.
My grandmother died when I was 27. She had been diagnosed with diabetes and within three months she was dead—not from diabetes itself but from the depression, the lack of access to quality medicine and health education, and the trauma that came from this diagnosis. This affirmed my career path working in health education and prevention.
My career is rooted in this sense of wanting to build equity and access to wellness services and information, address injustice and be a part of positive changes in my community. For me, wellness is a foundational concept to everything we do. If we lack wellness in the different arenas of our life, it can be a challenge to feel fulfilled.
Being part of positive culture change, especially on a college campus working alongside students, drives me. I am so inspired by their energy and dedication to make their mark and truly make a difference. We need that energy, especially now. The work we do is challenging, so when I feel like I’m struggling, I remember my grandmother’s resilience and know that I’m surrounded by passionate people. This recognition keeps me motivated knowing that, collectively, we are making a difference and moving the needle.”
—Brittany Kiyoko Badger, director, Center for Student Wellness, and co-chair of the SafeU Month working group, MS Health Promotion & Education ’12, doctoral candidate, Health Promotion & Education, Certified Health Education Specialist