Education and Inspiration: A Conversation with PUC Alum, Alex Dunbar

By Sarah Tanner on June 25, 2019

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A self-titled “people person” with the singular goal of making a positive impact, PUC alumna Alex Dunbar has done just that since her graduation in 2014. After majoring in exercise science and completing an A.S. in health sciences, Dunbar then attended Loma Linda University School of Public Health, where she received her master’s degree in health education and promotion in 2017.

Dunbar now works as a community education specialist in the public health branch of Shasta County’s Health and Human Services Agency, where her talents are directed primarily toward community education regarding the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. As the Strengthening Families Collaborative coordinator, Dunbar tackles issues such as neglect, abuse, and household dysfunction on a daily basis, and works to inform the public about the health risks associated with ACEs.

Her involvement in this field is the culmination of a years-long process of education and inspiration.

“My career actually took off before I even started working in the health field,” Dunbar explains. “PUC was not only where I received an education, but also where I received the opportunity to be an enrollment counselor. That experience trained me to be successful in my field when it comes to working with the community in countless ways.”

As an exercise science major, Dunbar gleaned a good deal of practical information that has carried over into her current career. She noted, “Some of my favorite things about exercise science were the hands-on activities and projects. We didn't just learn exercise physiology from the textbook, we got to use technology and equipment that showed us our oxygen levels when working out and what percentage of muscle we had, and how our feet changed when running barefoot versus running with shoes.

She continued, “It was also common knowledge exercise science majors were the desk workers for the fitness center and weight room. These jobs gave me the opportunity to assist those who wanted to learn more about exercise, and to meet new people.”

In the long run, these jobs opened doors to a love of coaching and volunteering in athletics. Dunbar admitted, “At the time, I didn't think I would ever coach sports, but my passion for coaching grew at PUC. Within the major, we were given opportunities to coach PUC P.E. courses as well as create and implement lesson plans for elementary school P.E. classes.”

While at PUC, in addition to her work at the fitness center and weight room, Dunbar also picked up a number of what she calls “odd jobs” that have since helped her in her professional career. One of those jobs was serving as a dorm chaplain in Andre Hall, a role that required her to practice the art of public speaking.

She reflected, “Now that I educate groups on ACEs and host community events, I'm very thankful I had that opportunity.”

Dunbar acknowledges the endless support she has received from those around her, which led to her success in her desired career. In addition to a love of learning and a strong desire to learn from other people’s experiences, she noted, “God has put people in my life like Jenn Tyner, VP of student life, who believed in me from the very beginning. He has blessed me with the most amazing family and friends, who support me in more ways than I could have imagined. And of course, the best things I've ever done in life are results of trusting God and letting Him lead me.”

In terms of long-term goals, Dunbar is a woman with a plan. In the professional arena, she hopes to continue her education efforts in the Shasta County community by teaching people about the importance of “loving, nurturing, and protecting our children.” And in her personal life, she remains committed to bringing those around her closer to God through her various roles as a volunteer basketball coach and worship coordinator at her home church.

“Don't let fear of finding a job keep you from your passion,” she advises. “I almost changed majors because I didn't know what job I would be able to find, but the more I prayed and trusted God to lead me, the more I realized he gave me that passion for a reason.”

Following her passion for education and service has proved immensely successful for Dunbar, and there is no doubt she will continue to impact her community in positive ways through not only her career but also her personal commitment to those around her.