Extraordinary mentor, accomplished scholar, influential teacher, exceptional role model—these are just a few of the superlatives students and colleagues used to describe Professor Meredith Minkler in letters of nomination for the 2012 Health Education Mentor Award from the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). This award recognizes individuals, like Professor Minkler, who have provided excellence in mentorship to health educators in their preparation, performance, and practice; and have served to successfully bridge the rift between practice and research.
For more than three decades, Minkler has undertaken health disparities research and community building and organizing with underserved communities including the low income elderly, grandmothers raising grandchildren, people with disabilities, youth, and immigrant workers. She has been at the forefront of developing the tools and principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and is well-known for her contributions to that field, including key books and papers. She directs the School's Health and Social Behavior Program and was the founding director of the UC Berkeley Center on Aging.
“Dr. Minkler is one of the hardest working women I know, and yet takes the time to teach, mentor, and respond to every request that comes her way,” wrote head nominator and recent mentee of Minkler’s Analilia Garcia Dr.P.H. ’11. “[She is] always seeking to find innovative ways to extend the reach and impact of her mentoring, while making the critical links between research and practice.”
Among five accompanying letters of support for Minkler’s nomination was one written by her former student Lawrence Wallack Dr.P.H., M.P.H. ’78, who is now dean and professor of public health at Portland State University, College of Urban and Public Affairs. He writes, “Professor Minkler is one of those great and truly rare teachers and mentors who does change the lives of her students. She is the one that most will remember. Hers is the class (or the meeting over lunch or breakfast) where they realized what might really be possible.”
Minkler will receive the award at SOPHE’s annual meeting to be held at the de Young Fine Arts Museum on October 27. SOPHE is an independent professional association of health education professionals and students throughout the United States and 25 international countries.
“This award means so much to me, because teaching and mentoring are the most uplifting parts of my work at Cal,” says Minkler. “Someone once said, 'If you haven't learned anything lately, you probably haven't taught.' I continue to learn so much from the students I teach and mentor. Coming to work is its own lifelong learning process.”
By Linda Anderberg