Graduation Spotlight: Mercy Adeola Best, MPH
Mercy Adeola Best recently graduated from the School of Public Health with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Public Health Practice.
Her interest in public health started early on, when she watched her mother— who emigrated from Nigeria to the United States— become a registered nurse to help others. Best knew that she wanted to make a similar impact but on a community level—and public health was the perfect fit.
While providing health and nutrition counseling for nine years through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and collaborating with Wholesome Wave, a non-profit organization that provides fruits and vegetables to overweight children, Best decided to return to school to pursue an MPH.
“I wanted to improve efforts to eliminate childhood obesity in underserved communities,” she says. Throughout her journey, she was cheered on by her husband, Fabian Best, her sister, Blessing Adebanjo, and her daughter Tiwatope, along with her professors and other community members.
“The virtual option for taking courses allowed me to balance home, work, and school life,” says Best. “And I was able to educate my family, church, and participants in the WIC program on health issues that plague underprivileged communities and how these issues can be prevented or treated through lifestyle changes and appropriate referrals.”
The biggest challenge Best faced while earning her degree was the death of her sister Grace, who passed away from a seizure. She was the reason Best chose to complete the internship component of her academic program in epilepsy awareness. She worked at the APARA foundation, which aims to increase the quality of life for individuals battling a variety of health conditions.
Under Dr. Arinayo Apara on #ProjectEpilepsy, Best created educational materials and programs, referred individuals to community resources, created healthy living plans for people living with epilepsy, and conducted support groups with the assistance of an epilepsy survivor from the Epilepsy Foundation of Metropolitan New York.
Now, equipped with an MPH degree, Best plans to continue advocating for epilepsy awareness and education. Her sister Grace started a non-profit called Visions of the World—and Best’s goal is to make it a well-known source for education, community, and help for those with epilepsy, both here in the United States and abroad.
“My sister once stated, ‘my mission is to leave my footprints on the sands of time, so when I pass, my legacy will live on’ and I plan to do just that!” says Best. “Through outreach, I want to provide education and resources to rural areas to change the perception of epilepsy from a condition of misfortune or divination.”
Brenda Kirkwood, director of online education at the School of Public Health and Best’s advisor, knows that Best will reach her career goals due to the same determination and work ethic that got her through the MPH program.
“As an academic advisor, it’s always gratifying to witness students achieve their goals. But, for students like Mercy, who persevere through life’s ups and downs, their achievements are that much more commendable. I could not be more proud!” she says.
Best recently accepted a position as an Assistant Director of Regulatory Affairs and Accreditation at NYC Health+Hospitals Kings County, in which she will be ensuring the hospital’s continued survey readiness as well as compliance with accreditation standards across the continuum of care.
“I would like to thank all of my professors at UAlbany, especially Dr. Brenda Kirkwood,” says Best. “Working with her has allowed me to discover skills and maximize my potential. She has provided much counseling and support over the years which has groomed me into becoming the public health professional that I have always aspired to be.”