#ElliottProud: Jelene B. Head

#ElliottProud: Jelene B. Head

Jelene B. Head smiles. She is outside in front of a tropical landscape with an ocean view. Jelene B. Head, Master of International Policy and Practice, 2021, #ElliottProud

Jelene B. Head is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She has lived, worked, and studied in France, Japan, & Guam. On May 15, 2012, Jelene enlisted in the U.S. Navy. She reported to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan, in December 2012 as her first duty station. She worked as a Corpsman (Medical Assistant) under the Directorate of Medical Services from 2012 -2013. From 2013-2015, she served as a Financial Management Analyst for the Resource Management Directorate. After completing her tour in Japan, she reported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (WRNMMC) in January 2016. She was a Clinic Manager for the Medical Readiness & Overseas Suitability-Deployment Health Coordinator & Program Manager.

After a successful Navy Enlisted tour at WRNMMC, Ms. Head enrolled in a Master’s program for Public Health-Policy at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health in 2020. During her studies at GW, she worked at the D.C. Deputy Mayor’s Health & Human Service Office (DHHS) as a Health Policy Program Manager. During her tenure at DHHS, she performed qualitative research on the Family First Prevention Service Act of 2018 to analyze the program’s effectiveness in reuniting and maintaining Foster Care Youth with their families. Upon completing her internship, she completed a Master of International Policy & Practice from the Elliott School of International Affairs in May 2021. Ms. Head works as an Industrial Hygienist and aids in Occupational Health Policy for the Department of the Navy at the U.S. Naval Medical Readiness & Training Command in Agana, Guam. She desires to promote Public Health on a Global scale.

When did you realize you wanted an international career?

During my formative years, I always attended schools that were ethnically diverse and rich in culture. I soon developed a passion for language, human rights, public health, and international policy, including business administration that extended beyond U.S. borders. Upon completing a master’s degree in business administration & health care management, I enlisted in the Navy in 2012. I began working overseas as a Corpsman (Medical Assistant) at Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan. While working overseas, my desire to support service members and aid disadvantaged and underserved communities domestically and overseas grew. After separating from the Navy, I immediately embarked on two master’s degree programs at GW, focusing on Public Health-Health Policy (2020) & International Policy & Practice (2021).

Describe your current position and what are your favorite aspects of the job?

I work for the Department of the Navy in Guam as an Industrial Hygienist. This position has allowed me to ensure the occupational safety & health of mariners, Naval Medical Service Corps members, Marines, and the Naval Fleet. People often need to learn the importance of Industrial Hygiene since it does not involve direct patient care. Additionally, we work behind the scenes while evaluating operational processes. However, working in this field, I combine all of my educational experience to anticipate, recognize, evaluate, and control environmental factors while developing policies that reduce work-related stressors and trigger acute or chronic health conditions.

What are the current trends driving the future of your career field and what advice would you provide an Elliott School graduate student that is interested in your field of work?

Industrial Hygiene is not a field that most Elliott School graduate students are aware of. I embarked on this career path because I am passionate about Public Health Policy beyond domestic borders. However, due to technological advancements in manufacturing organizations and operational procedures, progressive developments have been made regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) policy regulation. There is innovative PPE, which can monitor and track workers’ health. Employees’ health outside of work is a growing trend for many companies. This is trending since outside activities affect workers’ productivity, corporate growth, and financial return on investments.

If anyone is interested in this field, I highly suggest working operationally before working in an administrative policy role. This helps the individual to have a greater “overstanding” of the conditions, work environments, and exposure to hazardous materials that people experience while working in healthcare settings, warehouses, DoD installations, and other work environments.

How does your current position compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your degree at the Elliott School?

I wanted to work for USAID to promote the health and well-being of African women and children. Even though I am working in a field that is drastically different from what I previously envisioned, I still have the opportunity to work in Policy as a Public Health Practitioner domestically and abroad on offshore platforms while honing my skills to create policy advancements that will aid members of the Department of Defense (DoD) and their beneficiaries, Governments workers, veterans, and local citizens working on DoD facilities in the U.S & internationally.

What do you most value about your experience at the Elliott School?

I must reflect on what occurred on a World Stage when I attended the Elliott School of International Affairs in 2020 & 2021. Social unrest was evident, and there was much conversation regarding race relations, particularly with the Black community. Naturally, I began to focus on the political, social, and financial state of the Black/Pan-African community. 

My Leadership Capstone project during the MIPP program focused on the Economic Empowerment of the Black/Pan-African community. I chose this Leadership challenge to confront and develop a policy to combat the disturbing study, The Road to Zero Wealth, authored by (Asante-Muhammad, D., Collins, C., & Hoxie et al. 2017). The study concluded that the Median household wealth of Black families in America would fall to zero by 2053. Initially, this is a domestic issue. However, that perspective is limited due to the matter of global security if this issue manifests. 

What I valued about my experience at the Elliott School was the support given to me by Dr. Matthew Levinger & Dr. Lauren Van Metre. Their guidance helped me dive deeper into my research and identify how the racial wealth gap in America is a social determinant of health and affects international borders due to global security. Furthermore, they introduced me to subject matter experts so that I could develop leadership initiatives to reduce the racial wealth gap through technology. Additionally, I had the opportunity to learn how to approach the problematic conversation of race relations in America. Moreover, I learned how to gain buy-in to promote better policy and combat negative sentiments through conflict resolution. I am grateful to experience the support of Dr. Matthew Levinger & Dr. Lauren Van Metre.

What TV show have you most enjoyed in the last year?

The Netflix series “YOU” has intrigued me the most in the last year. The show “YOU” leaves an indelible print displaying the multi-contextual layers of the human psyche and the complexity of how a person exudes and demonstrates LOVE. Experience and natural observation have shown me that people spend much time seeking love and validation from others instead of loving themselves. As the show brilliantly displays, the root cause of this fervent yearning for love often stems from trying to heal from childhood pain, traumatic experiences, or both. The truth is that a person must heal their pain and learn how to love themselves unconditionally & unequivocally to establish stable relationships. Unfortunately, when pain and trauma have never been addressed or healed, consequential damage always ensues.

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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.