Senior public health advisor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
M.A. Communication, Regent University
B.S. Journalism, University of Maryland University College
As a youngster, Sharon Ricks '04 (Communication & the Arts) wanted to be a nurse, a writer and a teacher all at the same time. Now, as the senior public health advisor on regional women's health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C., Ricks is using her writing skills and her Regent-inspired passion to impact hundreds of thousands of women and their families.
Ricks' reputation as a respected leader and effective communicator landed her the job. "I quickly discovered that the organization didn't need another science major," she explains. "It needed someone to communicate, to educate and to encourage healthful behavioral changes in American women. They needed someone to create messages with impact."
One of her major tasks is coordinating National Women's Health Week. When she began the assignment in 2002, the organization had initiated only 15 educational events nationwide. In 2006, there were more than 1,000. Two key activities were a WOMAN (Women on the Move Across the Nation) Challenge where more than 17,000 women and girls determined to increase their physical activity for eight weeks, and a National Women's Check-Up Day, where thousands of women across the country scheduled or received preventive health screenings. The week's activities were featured in major media outlets and resulted in recognition from the House, the Senate and President and Mrs. George W. Bush.
Ricks quickly credits Regent for her career success and points to the broadened perspective instilled by the university. "When I entered Regent after earning an undergraduate degree in journalism, I was really focused on Christian writing. I left understanding that, although the skill is important, it's the message that can change lives."
To pursue an advanced degree in journalism and professional Christian writing, Ricks took advantage of Regent's flexible online program. For this mom of four, juggling school and family was a challenge, but the camaraderie she experienced with fellow students and the support, wisdom and encouragement from Regent professors and staff affirmed that she was in the exact place best suited to prepare her to influence her world.
Ricks reflects on her decision to attend Regent with awe. "I wanted to be a nurse, a writer and a teacher, and I couldn't decide," she says. "With the perspective and preparation I gained at Regent, I'm doing all those things. It's amazing, and my decision to attend Regent has equipped me to lead and make a difference in ways that I could never have imagined in even my wildest dreams."