Dr. Andrea Morris is the Acting Associate Director and Health and Nutrition Specialist at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University. Get to know Dr. Morris in the following interview.
Tell us a bit about your background in your current field. Who and/or what inspired you to take an interest in public health or science more generally?
My professional career began with studies in nutrition and hotel management at Alabama A&M University. After completing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I used my training and skills in healthcare settings, including hospitals and long-term care facilities. My decision to pursue a terminal degree in public health was my desire to participate in building communities to bring about change that supported long-term improvements in health.
How has USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funding shaped your professional development in your current endeavors?
NIFA funding enabled the development of the Mobile Nutrition Education Unit that we use to bring educational materials to unserved and underserved communities in Alabama. The RV is 36 feet long and comes equipped with interactive opportunities that promote physical activity, proper hand washing techniques, basic nutrition concepts, food safety topics, and more. The Mobile Nutrition Unit provides educational opportunities at schools, churches, community events, health fairs, farmers markets, and more. Equipped with Wi-Fi and other technology components, the unit can support educational experiences in any community.
What advice do you have for current students who might be interested in pursuing a similar career?
Build relationships and connect with others in your field of study. Lean on the support of your college program, faculty, and staff. Ask for a mentor – department alumni can be a great source of mentorship. Make sure they are aware of your interest and availability to participate in various opportunities that will allow you to gain experience. Connect with professional organizations that support your field of study. Many have student rates and offer scholarships to students who wish to become members. Once you’ve started building relationships and found connections, stick with them, nurture them, and help other students.
Photo: Dr. Andrea Morris is acting associate director and health and nutrition specialist at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University. Image courtesy of Dr Morris.