Syretta Shealey

Healthy CPS Specialist

Chicago Public Schools, Office of Student Health and Wellness

See Syretta’s bio. See all of the 40 Under 40 honorees.

Five Questions for Syretta

In her work with students in Chicago, Syretta tries to focus on the “who” and “why” of her work — not just the “what” and “how.”

1. Who or what inspired you to enter the field of public health?

First, my passion for helping others. Second, realizing my gift as a connector. I have always been the friend who everyone comes to for advice, to be a voice of reason, or the referral for establishing healthier life habits.

2. What are the greatest challenges you face in your public health work or area of focus?

Reminding others to take a step back from the day-to-day tactical details and focus on the “who” and the “why”– not just the “what” and “how.” The question should always be “are we making actionable steps that are manageable, realistic, and impactful for our ‘customer’?”

3. What would success in public health look like to you?

Success in public health in the education sector would look like caring adults creating a supportive environment where youth can embrace the power of a collective voice. Empowering our youth to become advocates and establish their self-efficacy in order to create a sustainable balance. I envision that those in powerful positions will look at the broad social and cultural aspects that education directly affects, and employ the construct of reciprocal determinism.

4. What’s a story or experience that keeps you going, even when you’re feeling challenged?

Advice from my maternal grandparents: “If you do the right thing, the right thing will always turn out for you!”

5. Describe yourself in three words.

Connector. Altruistic. Charismatic.


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