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Board of Directors Spotlight: Jennifer Hellier

Board of  Directors Spotlight: Jennifer Hellier

Throughout the year we will be highlighting members of our Board of Directors. This month, we are highlighting Board Secretary Jennifer Hellier.

"Jennifer is a joy to work with. She has been supporting CCAHEC for many years, first in her leadership role at the COAHEC Program Office, and now as an Executive Board Member. Her experience and skillset are a perfect match for the work we do to connect students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health. Jennifer also makes the work we do fun! She reminds us to be personable while making lasting connections with our students," CCAHEC Executive Director Lin Browning

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you’re from, where you live, family info (kids, pets, etc.). 

I am a native of Colorado, am married for 22 years to my best friend (Chuck) and have two handsome sons (Jack and Sam). We have three pets, Ace (dog), Katniss (cat), and Snappy (box turtle).

If you could plan a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I love the mountains and wide-open valleys and love to hike. Thus, my dream vacation includes camping somewhere near a stream or lake in the Rocky Mountains.

What is your favorite hobby?

I love to knit and crochet yarn into different objects. Right now, I am knitting a dissected rat with all the right anatomy for the GI tract.

Can you tell us about where you work, how long you’ve been working there, what your position is, and a little bit about what you do?

I am the Director of the Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair for the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I earned my doctoral degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology from Colorado State University and completed my Baccalaureate of Science at the University of Southern California in Biomedical Engineering. Previous to my current position, I was the Director of Colorado Health Professions Development (Co-HPD) programs and the Associate Director of Pre-Professional Programs in the Colorado Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program Office, where I developed several Co-HPD pipeline and outreach programs in leadership and healthcare careers. Additionally, I performed peer-reviewed scientific research in schizophrenia, olfaction, and epilepsy in a neuroscience lab on the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus. Earlier in my career, I was an instructor in the Neurology Department at Harvard Medical School, and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado Health Science Campus. I am the lead editor and author of two ABC-CLIO’s encyclopedias, the first is entitled: The Brain, the Nervous System, and Their Diseases (December 2014); and the second is titled: The Five Senses and Beyond: The Encyclopedia of Perception (December 2016).

Why did you join the CCAHEC BOD?

When I was working at the Colorado AHEC Program Office, I saw the amazing work CCAHEC was accomplishing and I wanted to continue to help improve the healthcare workforce and address needs in my community.

How long have you been a member of the CCAHEC BOD?

I have been a member for almost a year this July.

Tell us about your roles professionally.

As the director of the DMRSEF, I enjoy helping our young scientists and engineers in developing their love of experimenting and designing. I started my career by competing at the DMRSEF when I was in 7th and 8th grades and truly believe this competition launched my scientific career.

What is one of your favorite CCAHEC stories you like to tell?

This is one of my favorite AHEC stories…as the director of the Colorado Health Professions Development (Co-HPD) Scholars program, I worked with undergraduate students throughout Colorado to be the strongest applicants for health profession schools/programs. One of these students wrote me a wonderful thank you highlighting his success…

“Good evening Dr. Hellier,

Although I would rather share this news with you in person, I wanted to let you know that I was accepted into 7 medical schools and have decided to attend Stanford this upcoming academic year! More importantly, I wanted to say thank you a million times over for the mentorship and guidance you have given me throughout my time at DU. From offering a transformative CO-HPD experience, to critiquing my application, to writing what I can only presume from my application cycle results to be an amazing letter of recommendation, you have both directly and indirectly given me the tools to succeed as a student, future physician, and socially conscious leader. I am eternally grateful to have had the privilege of learning how to navigate the equally complex processes of medical school applications and life in general. I’ve realized that my “X” factor was not a special skill or certain experience, but the fact that I had such strong support and mentorship from generous, caring people like you. Thank you again; your influence on me will continue to live on throughout medical school as I strive to become a part of the next generation of compassionate physician leaders.

Your lifelong student,

Austin, University of Denver ‘19

What is your proudest accomplishment as part of the CCAHEC BOD?

Helping to bring on new board members, as members are crucial in helping CCAHEC achieve its mission.

What are your top goal for CCAHEC in the coming year?

To achieve the goals of CCAHEC’s strategic plan.

Is there anything else you would like our readers know?

I love to teach and am on the Board of Directors for Funzelo and Anatomy in Clay Centers, both non-profit organizations that focus on teaching others.

Do you want to make a difference in your community?

Help connect students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health.

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