Five Questions with Avia Mainor
Avia Mainor’s family calls her “Miss UNC.”
Name: Avia Mainor
Position: Workforce development associate, North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH)
Time at UNC: Fifteen years as an employee, but really more because I was an undergraduate here. (After an internship, my first job was with UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Carmen Samuel-Hodge was my first boss. I worked with her on a community-based diabetes awareness research project that got me hooked on public health.)
What I do at UNC Gillings (and why I like it): I’m not a researcher or a nurse, but I still support public health practice. What I do is create training programs for employees in North Carolina’s health departments. NCIPH offers online and in-person trainings that cover topics ranging from the impact of new legislation to improving managerial skills. I take on many different roles for these offerings – I might coordinate bringing in expert speakers, or I might organize resource materials on Sakai, or I might develop and deliver a training myself. Ultimately, when my friends and family ask about my job, I tell them that I develop trainings to help others do their jobs better.
What I like about my job is how many lives I touch indirectly and the people I get to meet. When I was young, I had my heart set on medical school, but then I realized that my impact would be multiplied exponentially in public health. I help the people who help the public, and together we make a real difference. I also love my service-oriented co-workers!
My very first job was: working in a tobacco field. I grew up on a family farm in Magnolia, N.C. When my grandfather’s health started to fail, my Dad quit teaching to save the farm. I was out there as an eight-year-old driving a tractor. All the kids in my family worked on the farm to begin with; when you hit your teens, you had the choice to either stick with that or move inside to the air conditioning. The catch was that the “inside job” was doing clerical work at my grandparents’ funeral home!
Outside the office: I do a lot of event planning for my friends and family. Baby showers, family reunions, birthday parties… I love it all! I’ve always been the planning guru and list-keeper in my family. So far, the biggest event I’ve tackled was a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents.
It’s also worth mentioning that my family calls me “Miss UNC.” I got both my degrees here; I’ve worked here since I was an undergrad; my favorite color is Carolina blue; I even met my best friend here. My whole life is linked to UNC in some way… my Christmas tree and even my car’s license plate are Carolina-themed!
Something I dream of doing: is traveling abroad. Italy is first on my list. It would be such a pleasure trip because I’m a big foodie. After that… Bali would be a good second vacation!
I also want to run more road races. I started running in 2013 and found that it really helps me mentally decompress. I ran the Bull City Half Marathon in 2015 and I’m looking to do another half-marathon soon.
The best advice I’ve ever received is: “Do the best that you can every day.” This was shared with me in the context that if people all brought their A-game to what they do, we’d have a much better world. In any task I take on, I try to leave things better than I found them.