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September 10, 2014

Lisa Ward: Taking Chances

Lisa Ward

At that moment, she decided she wanted to be part of a network that had the power to connect people from all around the world.

Lisa Ward sat at a small café with her classmates in Orvieto, a quaint town in Italy between Rome and Florence. It was close to midnight and the town was filled with excitement as locals and tourists walked the cobbled streets. She was far from her Adelphi University home, yet she felt connected to the tiny town. Comforted by American music videos from the 1990s being played on MTV in the corner of the café, she decided she wanted to be part of a network that had the power to connect people from all around the world.

Ms. Ward is no stranger to taking chances. She is five years in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a highly curable type of cancer affecting the lymph nodes), which helped strengthen her decision making. With a background in patient services at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, she was greatly inspired to advocate for other young adults with chronic illness. Ms. Ward traveled to local elementary schools and educated children on blood cancers by sharing her personal story of survivorship. She visited senatorial offices in Albany to advocate for health bills affecting children’s cancer. It led her to obtain an internship with Viacom in MTV’s Department of Public Affairs, where she used social media to spread awareness on issues such as sexual health and discrimination. She created interviews for celebrities promoting charities and researched various sources to build a new campaign based on stereotyping. Ms. Ward said the best part of the internship was using a universally known network to educate others on social issues and playing a small part in such a big change.

As a graduate assistant at the Center for Career Development, she administers the Strong Interest Inventory for students and alumni. The tool can help match them to a career or major, based on their skill set and interests. Helping other students from different backgrounds reignited Ms. Ward’s desire to educate others.

After her study abroad experience in Orvieto, Ms. Ward backpacked through Western Europe—Rome, Pompeii, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and London. She now hopes to explore how culture can affect a person diagnosed with cancer and the different forms of integrative medicines used to improve a patient’s self-esteem through yoga and dance therapy.

Ms. Ward is slated to graduate in January 2015 with a master’s degree in general psychology. She said she will join the Peace Boat voyage affiliated with the United Nations, traveling to Brazil and Africa, gaining practicum experience with children. She hopes to combine her passions of travel and health by earning a Ph.D. in global health.

This article appeared in the Career Compass Fall 2014 Newsletter.
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