Southeast Missouri State University alumna Leah Pylate of Starkville, Mississippi, has been promoted to assistant director of health education wellness and sexual assault in the Department of Health Education and Wellness at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.
“One of my favorite aspects of my job is to help students and watch as they succeed in achieving their goals,” Leah says.
She has various roles and responsibilities as the assistant director of health education and wellness and sexual assault.
Some of those include developing, implementing and evaluating health education programming, supervising staff and grant writing. She works with collegiate recovery, relationship violence prevention, and other health topics relating to students.
“Inspiration to pursue this career came in many forms, from inspiration from my parents who work in ministry helping people to my education at Southeast and beyond, there have been many people who have invested time in me and inspired me along the way,” Leah says. “One of my favorite memories of the position is the feeling of accomplishment after events have concluded. Knowing we can bring awareness to so many health topics through the various programs and events we deliver is very satisfying. Also, I really enjoy working with students in recovery and hearing their inspiring stories.”
Leah graduated with a Bachelor of Science in health management with an emphasis in health promotion and a minor in integrated marketing communications from Southeast.
Leah chose to attend Southeast because it met her three most important needs – affordability, convenience and it offered the major she desired. She transferred from Three Rivers Community College after she earned her associate’s degree and says it was a smooth transition to Southeast. She says she is one of seven children, and that two of her siblings have graduated from Southeast. A third sibling, her younger sister, is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in mass communication with an emphasis in public relations from Southeast.
She says the degree program of health management, including the required practicum and internship, prepared me to work in the field and pursue graduate studies.
“My advisor, Dr. Barnes, was very helpful in giving undergraduate students opportunities to gain experience and worked with us to pursue future opportunities that fit our interests. At Southeast I took part in the Health and Wellness Association, recreational sports like volleyball, and increased my cultural understanding through a spring break travel abroad program. My experiences at Southeast were very helpful in preparation for my career,” Leah says.
She earned a Master of Science in food science, nutrition and health promotion with an emphasis in health promotion emphasis in 2008 and a Master of Business Administration in 2011 from Mississippi State University. She began to pursue her doctoral degree in human development and family studies in fall 2014 from Mississippi State University. She currently has two young children and Leah says she is “learning to balance family time and school time while working. This is very important to me because I want my children to be able to pursue their interests and I want to provide the best foundation I can for them.”
Leah is pursuing her doctoral degree with an emphasis in human development and family studies to further her career and provide other opportunities related to helping families.
In addition to working and studying, she recycles vintage items, antiques, and gently used items. Other hobbies include baking and photography. She is also athletic. She and her family ride bikes and walk together. She also enjoys playing sports, especially volleyball with her six siblings.
“Although we – seven of us, and I’m the oldest – do not live close together now, it is an especially fun pastime for us. Our family is very competitive in this sport. I can never forget one year when my brother and I won the Southeast Intramural Sand Volleyball championship. I think I still have the T-shirt somewhere.”
Leah offers some advice to Southeast students.
“I think it is important to take advantage of opportunities Southeast provides because you never know where you might find a connection to someone or something that can help you succeed in a future endeavor. Though you may face disadvantages and delays, working hard and having a plan can lead to success in whatever you want to achieve. Just keep striving for progress, one step at a time,” she says.