Five Questions with Deanna Hedgepeth
Deanna Hedgepeth comes from a family of educators and musicians.
Name: Deanna Hedgepeth
Position: Administrative support associate / accreditation program assistant, North Carolina Institute for Public Health (NCIPH)
Time at the Gillings School: Four months
What I do at UNC Gillings (and why I love it): I’m pretty new here, so I’m still figuring it all out. That said, I serve as the main contact person for NCIPH and am responsible for general office duties. I answer questions and direct people where they need to go. I also conduct financial and human resources work and manage purchasing for our unit. On the accreditation side of my job, I’m the liaison between NCIPH and the teams that conduct site visits with local health departments throughout North Carolina. Those teams make sure the health departments are meeting their requirements for continued funding, and I support the teams by making hotel reservations, processing reimbursements and so on.
I really like the environment at the Gillings School. NCIPH feels like a tight-knit family that has welcomed me, and I especially appreciate the flexibility they give me when it comes to my schedule. I live more than an hour away, and they let me come in early and leave early so I can beat rush hour traffic. I also love being in a big university setting. I feel like I’m constantly exposed to diversity of people and ideas, and there are endless forums, seminars and events where I can learn new things.
The first job I ever had: was as a babysitter and tutor for my little cousin. I’d keep her during the summer months when I was out of school. Later, I worked for a company called University Instructors that helped middle school students who didn’t pass the End-of-Course Test study for a second try. In that job, I served as a tutor and art instructor. After college, I became a health educator – I think my focus on supporting education goes back to having two parents who worked for the public school system. My father is a retired teacher, and my mother is a social worker who visits five different schools each week.
On a perfect day, I would do: nothing! I love sitting in the most comfortable corner of my couch and catching up on my shows. This weekend, for example, my husband and I went to a wedding in Atlanta. It was a great time, but I was so happy when we got home and I could go right back to my favorite spot!
If I could wake up tomorrow with one new ability, I’d want to: be fluent in American Sign Language. I’ve always been very interested in it, and I once started learning it but just didn’t keep up the practice. I have a friend who works as a sign language interpreter, and she is amazing to watch. One day, when we were out shopping together, we noticed an elderly woman who clearly was having trouble communicating with a sales clerk. My friend walked right up and started signing, and the woman was so surprised and happy that my friend could help her get what she needed. That moment literally moved me to tears!
Something my colleagues might not know about me: is that I’m actually an introvert and am very shy. People in the work setting usually don’t believe me when I say that, but I’m definitely one of those people who share memes on Facebook like, “I make plans with friends, and five minutes later I wish I had an excuse to cancel!” I’m an only child, so I’ve always been a little out of my element in big groups, and starting conversations with strangers can be hard.
On the other hand, I love to sing. I’m not afraid to do that in front of a crowd, although I do get extremely nervous before a solo. When I was in school at UNC-Greensboro, I was part of the Neo Black Society Gospel Choir. I grew up singing in church and most people in my mom’s family either sing or play an instrument, so my relatives and I always wind up making music when we get together. Once, on a road trip, I remember telling my husband, “Get ready – you’re officially in a musical!”