Featured Alumna: Dr. LaTangee Dickens

“Attending ECU was one of the best decisions I made, which I account for my success in the field of public health. This decision was also inspired by a cousin who attended ECU, and I remember her taking me to campus when I was in middle school. I thought to myself, as I roamed around campus…I would love to go to college here, which is exactly what I did after graduating from Edgecombe Community College,” Dr. LaTangee Dickens told us.

Dr. Dickens is a two-time alumna of ECU; she received her B.S. in public health in 2004, and later received her M.A. in health education and promotion. Most recently, Dickens earned her Ph.D. in public health from Walden University in 2019 with a concentration in community health.

Dickens credits her great experience at ECU to Dr. David White, chair of the Department of Health Education and Promotion when she was a student. Before he spoke at her freshman orientation, Dickens thought she wanted to be an athletic trainer. After he described a variety of academic programs and began to explain the public health program, Dr. Dickens knew then that promoting and protecting the health of people and the communities in which they live, learn, work and play, was the career for her.

She tells us, “Attending ECU was remarkable and gave me the opportunity to be a first-generation graduate. Growing up in a single-parent home, my mother instilled in me the importance of faith and education. Completing both my bachelor’s in public health and master’s in health education and promotion at ECU shaped my career ambitions. My Health 2000 course was one of my favorites. My instructor, Mrs. Debra Tavasso, gave me insight and a comprehensive introduction to public health and public health career opportunities.

“I am honored, but also blessed, to have had the public health career opportunities shared with me back then. I have had the opportunity to work in the following capacities: health department, non-profit organizations, faith-based non-profit organizations, hospital, university, and public school system.  I would associate my current role at Vidant Medical Center as the Injury Prevention Program coordinator to the courses taught in the Department of Health Education and Promotion. Those courses instilled in me the importance of professionalism and leadership. Lastly, I am appreciative for the knowledge gained from pursuing two academic degrees at ECU. I will continue to work hard to achieve my ambitions in the field of public health, to the best of my ability, as I continue to strive for excellence in each endeavor I explore.”

In December 2018, Dickens received the Lead the Way Award from Vidant Medical Center for her implementation of an innovative public health program titled the Devantae Dortch SwimSafe Program.  This program, in partnership with Aquaventure and Pitt County Schools, teaches second grade students basic swimming and safety skills. The award is given to a team member who demonstrates Vidant Health’s values, leads by example, and inspires excellence in others, which are invaluable parts of the organization’s principles. Dickens was also nominated for the Team Leader of the Year Award in November 2019, where she won first runner-up and honorable mention for this prestigious distinction.

Dickens shared advice for students:

  • “Be passionate about the degree you wish to pursue. In the end it will be all worth it. As I often tell my students, ‘I will do anything for the Health of It!’ whether it be wearing a fruit costume to educate young children about eating healthier or running a 5K to support a public health cause. What is your passion?
  • “Practice what you preach. As a public health professional, it is important to lead by example, therefore my health is important to me, which is why I chose a vegetarian lifestyle, and have done so for the past 14 years.
  • “Seek volunteer opportunities in order to learn as much as you can about the future career path you want to pursue.”