Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Aloha, Dr. Yu

By: Elisa Sparkman, Education & Outreach Specialist

After 23 years of serving as Thurston County’s Health Officer, Dr. Diana Yu is moving on to a new chapter of her life.  Dr. Yu’s column in The Olympian, “Health Matters,” was the inspiration for me to get this blog up and running for the Environmental Health Division.

My career in public health is just beginning and as I think back to what has led me here, I always think of Dr. Yu. I am 29 years old and I grew up in Thurston County. Dr. Yu has been the Health Officer for most of my life!

I still remember the first time I saw her “Health Matters” column in the newspaper. I was flipping through the paper, probably looking for the comics, and I saw her picture next to her column. “Hey, mom! Don’t we know her?” I shouted out. My mom came over and told me that her kids went to my school and she was our county Health Officer. Well, I thought that was pretty cool. I mean, her picture was in the newspaper on a regular basis! When she came to school, everyone always greeted her with such warmth and respect. It was obvious – she was a super neat woman and a positive role model to everyone.

For years I read her column. I loved that as a kid, I could read it and understand it. I loved that it had a sense of humor. And would you believe it? I was LEARNING! When I was hired into this position, I remembered what an influence those columns had on me. With that in mind, I worked with the Environmental Health management and staff to create this blog.

It has been an honor to know Dr. Yu for so much of my life and even more of an honor to get to work with her. Later on, when I am thinking about the time I spent working with her, I will not only remember the long meetings discussing graphic food-borne illness outbreaks (I try to forget those), I will think about how her voice, in person and through her writing, was a voice of positive influence in our community. I heard that voice as a kid and as an adult I got to join her in educating the community for a healthy and safe Thurston County.

Thank you, Dr. Yu, for your inspiration.

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