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Recipients Announced for the Helen P. Cleary Scholarship Opportunity for the Certified Health Education Specialist Credential

Three outstanding students selected by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) to receive registration fees and study materials for the October 2021 CHES® examination

NCHEC has announced the names of three recipients for the Helen P. Cleary Scholarship for the October 2021 CHES® examination.  This award, first instituted in 2019, was designed to assist full-time undergraduate or graduate students with the fees associated with the examination. Applicants for this award were to demonstrate both financial need and a passion for their chosen field of Health Education and Promotion during their academic careers. NCHEC sponsors this scholarship opportunity, offered twice yearly, and the awards process is administered by the SOPHE Awards Committee.

The names of the October 2021 scholarship recipients are:  Jason Kolodziej; Rebecca Lynn Ehrlich; and Meaghan Hurley

Jason Kolodziej is a graduate student at the University of Southern California seeking a master’s degree in Public Health within the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences. Jason’s extensive military background, including 20 years of experiences both abroad and domestic, has served to develop his enthusiasm for informing and improving the health outcomes of others. His Army National Guard service in both Massachusetts and California included three overseas tours in support of the Global War on Terrorism earned him a Defense Meritorious Service Medal and two Bronze Star Metals.  “Whether assisting projects digging water wells in Afghanistan, teaching soldiers about proper diet and physical training, or participating in a volunteer program to increase social and emotional learning in underserved Los Angeles sixth-grade glasses,” said Jason, “the idea of finding the best way to deliver a health message is one that very much resonates with me.”

As an older Public Health graduate student, Jason has returned to academia with the purpose of transitioning to a career in Public Health.  “I believe that the opportunity to achieve the CHES® credential would be a way to fortify the foundation of my formal public health educational experience.”

In addition to his many achievements, Jason is a member of the American Public Health Association and the U.S. Green Building Council of Los Angeles, and the USC Student Alumni Society. He also volunteers with the Beach Cities Health District and regularly coaches functional fitness classes at an athletics facility in El Segundo, CA.

Rebecca “Lynn” Ehrlich recently received her undergraduate degree in Community Health, with high honors, from Tacoma Community College in the state of Washington, with a focus on trauma and health education. Her career goal is to acquire the clinical skills necessary to teach domestic violence prevention education and help women and children escape the bonds of violence and create aftercare programs that support families in need. Lynn is a survivor of domestic violence herself, and knows firsthand about the emotional fallout that can happen after escaping violence, as well as the need for both compassionate and informed guidance from professionals to begin again.

According to Lynn, “In researching CHES® certification, I found that it fits hand-in-glove with a career in advocacy. Whether through employment or philanthropy, the CHES® would provide the credential needed to work with members of my community in building a strategic prevention framework that addresses the needs of domestic violence survivors.”  Lynn has completed a series of intensive internships that have allowed her to work with women in re-entry and students fighting systemic racision. “It is my belief that clinical skills plus a significant life experience can make a monumental difference in outcomes,” said Lynn.

Lynn is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, has maintained a 4.0 GPA, and volunteers time with the Tacoma-Piece County Public Health Department. 

Meaghan Hurley is an undergraduate at Bridgewater State University in Massachusets, and is currently pursuing a degree in Health Studies with the Department of Health and Kinesiology. She believes that a career in health education and promotion will allow her to focus not only on the physical, but the emotional, spiritual, and mental elements of health. During her time as an undergraduate, Meaghan has traveled to Cambodia to serve those lacking basic health necessities, and studied the rich relational health of the communities there. In additiion, she gained classroom experience as an Instructional Mentor within the Cardinal Spellman High School in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with a diverse group of students to manage behavior and promote health.

“I believe that health education specialists work to affirm the pupose of all lives through advocating for and empowering individuals,” said Meaghan, “ and that every human life deserves the utmost healthcare, regardliess of socio-economics, race, ethnicity, or gender. CHES® certification will indicate that I have successfully met the Competencies and Responsibilities needed to promote and advocate for health.”

Meaghan is a Dean’s List student, has been published in Simmons University’s MindScope Magazine, and is a member of the Curriculum Committee for the Departement of Health and Kinesiology.

The Helen P. Cleary Scholarship was launched in March of 2019, in conjunction with NCHEC’s 30th Anniversary celebration, and continues on a bi-annual basis. The next application period for the Helen P. Scholarship will run from September 20 – 24, 2021, for the April 2022 CHES® examination.  For more information about the Helen P. Cleary Scholarship, please visit, or
Posted by Jessica Wessner at 11:00

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