Personalized Health and Well-Being student repays generosity through advocacy

Jaqueline Green In DcIn 2019, The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth student Jacqueline Green said she felt hopeless. She became pregnant while experiencing hard financial times, and she didn’t have insurance. Compounding her stress was terrible grief. Her mother-in-law suddenly passed away, leaving the Green family without a pillar of their family who they were depending on for childcare.

Flash forward to now, and Green is traveling the country advocating on behalf of moms and their children. In October, the Dallas native was named parent ambassador for the National Service Office for Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First programs. She and the other ambassadors meet and talk with policymakers to raise more funds and expand Medicaid to cover home visits by nurses.

On top of this important work, raising a four-year-old son alongside her husband and working full-time as a community health worker, Green is also a student in the School of Health Profession’s Department of Personalized Health and Well-Being, studying to earn her Master’s of Science in Lifestyle Health Sciences and Coaching.

As Green reflected on her mental state just a few years ago, she said her current life seemed unthinkable.

A trip to her local branch of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, changed her life — despite being denied benefits. As she left frustrated, Green noticed a business card on the receptionist’s desk.

“It stated, ‘Would you like to have a nurse assist you throughout your pregnancy?’ I turned the card over, and Nurse-Family Partnership/WiNGS was on the other side with contact information. I grabbed the card and walked out.”

A Woman of WiNGS

Green called the number and connected with a local nonprofit, WiNGS Dallas — formerly the YWCA of Dallas — a community of women that helps women overcome poverty. That organization, which partners with the National Service Office for Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First program, eventually provided her with a home-visiting nurse, Rhonda. Aside from providing invaluable help with her newborn son, the nurse and a series of other people she would encounter through the partnered organizations walked Green down a path that ultimately led to where she is today: paying back that generosity through community service.

“Jackie, an advocate for Nurse-Family Partnership since 2021, remains dedicated to the cause,” said Ashlei Watson, volunteer engagement manager for the National Service Office for Nurse-Family Partnership and Child First. “Her involvement with Dallas WiNGS has inspired her to expand her efforts nationally, ensuring families nationwide receive quality care. Actively engaged in advocacy, she represents the National Service Office at state advocacy days in Austin, Texas, and Washington, DC, advocating for maternal health awareness. Recognized as an NSO Parent Ambassador, her commitment to community health and policy change is invaluable.”

Green learned an array of both parenting and personal skills, including best practices for nutrition, exercise and more. WiNGS even provided her with a finance coach and helped her find a home when a winter storm left her family unhoused. She eventually reentered the workforce, finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Arlington and started graduate school at HSC. The WiNGS/ Nurse-Family Partnership program supported Green for the first two years of her son’s life — the most determinative time for a child’s development.

Green was named a Woman of WiNGS by the organization — a designation given to women whose success through the program inspires others.

“Jacqueline is one of our women of WiNGS we are so proud to walk alongside,” said Kate Rose Marquez, WiNGS chief executive officer. “What she’s accomplished and what she’s given back is a powerful, living testament to the work we do to foster a community where every woman can thrive and reach her full potential. We believe by empowering women, we uplift entire communities and create a more equitable and prosperous society for all.”

Leading in the classroom and her community

Green is set to graduate in May. She’s already applying what she’s learned in the classroom to her community health clients.

“We’re learning more about health behaviors and how some patients can actually kind of be in a state of emotional paralysis because of their health condition,” Green said. “They need somebody like a health coach to help them move to where they need to be so they can be healthy.”

Debbie Gillespie
Debbie Gillespie

“That’s where health advocacy comes in. We’re going to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself. We’ll provide you the resources if you can’t find them. I’m very passionate about it.”

Green’s faculty, Dr. Debbie Gillespie, assistant professor in HSC’s Department of Personalized Health and Well-Being, said Green continues to make the department proud.

“Jacqueline is a focused, conscientious student and dedicated advocate who embodies the essence of an empathetic health and well-being coach,” Gillespie said. “She is already using the knowledge and skills gained in her graduate studies to build positive connections and empower others to make meaningful lifestyle changes for better health. We can’t wait to see how she continues to be a leader in her community and beyond.”

Green hopes her story serves as a model for others who feel hopeless and lost as a first-time mother. She wants to inspire others to shift from surviving to thriving for their overall well-being.

“I’m hoping that when I achieve this master’s degree, I can inspire and empower more people like me to get out there and hit the ground running. Go door to door, ask patients what they need and be a conduit of service for them, so they don’t have to suffer in silence.

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