The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Women who rock Award given to health center educator

Director of the Women’s Center Karen Click announced Megan Knapp, the 26-year-old Memorial Health Center Educator, as the recipient of the Fall 2007 Women Who Rock Award in front of Knapp’s colleagues at the Student Affairs Divisional Retreat in January 2008.

Knapp is the third recipient of the award after its commencement in 2006. At the end of every semester, the staff of the Women’s Center comes together, reviews the “amazing women” they have worked with and picks one who “uplifts the female voice, is a great role model for students and exemplifies the strength and character of women,” Click said. “That is definitely Megan Knapp.”

“I was pretty surprised. I definitely was not expecting it,” Knapp said. “When Karen started describing the person who had won the award, I thought, ‘this kind of sounds like me and things I’ve done.'” Click says Knapp is an “outstanding woman” who fulfills the definition of a rock: “solid, strong and reliable.”

When Knapp started at SMU in July 2007, she took a new position that Click deemed a difficult one in which to start. “Almost every problem we have on campus was hoped to be solved with that position,” Click said, “so that person stepping in could have been incredibly overwhelmed with all that needed to be addressed; whether it’s drug and alcohol concerns on campus, or eating disorders, or any other health concerns.

“The amazing thing about Megan is she didn’t step in with an overwhelming fear or any negativity. She was absolutely a positive force with unbounded energy and willingness to walk across campus late at night to any programs she could attend just to spread the word about a healthy lifestyle.”

With an abundant background in health education, Knapp took on her new position at SMU with full force. During her sophomore year at Southwestern University in 2004, Knapp, a double major in biology and communications, decided against going to medical school. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, who is a physician getting her masters in public health.

Filled with fire and inspiration, Knapp went on to Emory to get her masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Education in 2005. That same year, her husband – an SMU Law School alumus – proposed to her. The proposal led Knapp to move to Dallas from Atlanta.

Prior to working at SMU, Knapp served as the health educator for physicians and other health care workers on bio-terrorism issues and emergency preparedness at Tarrant Country Public Health (TCPH). Her preceding role at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was also similar.

Regardless of the familiar job titles between her previous professions and her current position here at SMU, Knapp admits there is a huge difference between her previous and current audiences. This forced her to take a different approach.

“With physicians and health care workers, I had to take a more didactic approach. With students, it’s more laid back and I can get a bit more personal. ” Knapp continued to say that witnessing transitions in students is the best part of her job. “Sometimes it can get frustrating talking to college students about drugs and alcohol.

“The students start off saying ‘come on already’ and rolling their eyes, but by the end of the program, they’re the ones helping lead discussions. It’s a cool transition to see and it’s good to see that it’s getting somewhere. It’s good to know someone is listening,” she said.

As the health educator, Knapp said that her job description changes based on what comes through the door. “Basically, I am resource for students who come with any sorts of health questions, get presentations lined up, help them find information that they’re seeking. I also advise the Peer Advising Network (PAN) – an organization that works to positively influence health related behaviors on SMU. I help PAN put on programs, presentations and campaigns.”

Along with education on physical health, Knapp also oversees a program called “Because I Care.” “It is a two-step program that first gives the information, and then demonstrates how to apply them,” Knapp said. “The first step is to give students skills to intervene and signs to look for when their friends are having problems related to drugs, alcohol, relationship violence, depression and other issues. The second step is more of role-playing to actually apply the skills and work through different scenarios.”

The brown plaque with a fist-sized Brimstone rock glued on top and words underneath that read “Women Who Rock Fall 2007… Megan Knapp” now hangs in Megan’s second floor office in Memorial Health Center. She admits that receiving the award has rippled positive effects.

“It definitely felt good,” she said. “Sometimes you get wrapped up in your work, and it felt good to be recognized. It was good to know that some of the work coming out of this office is being noticed.

“Sometimes you work and work and work, and you don’t know if anything is going anywhere or if any of your messages is being received by the SMU community. It was kind of like, ‘Hey, I can make a difference.'”

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