Breastfeeding Month – Student Spotlights on Jeanna Spears and Amanda Marion

Union Institute & University is proud to join with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) in the celebration of National Breastfeeding Month.

Union is joining the observance with spotlights on the students, alumni, staff and faculty in the Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation and the Master of Arts in Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies. Read about two of our students and their plans for their degree in the Q & A below.

Jeanna Spears:

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Once I have completed my degree I would like to pursue a childbirth educator certification and continue to teach and help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I needed a few courses to take the IBCLC exam. I figured since I was already enrolled I should complete my Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I am a full-time mom, I work 40 hours a week (at least) at the local hospital and I work on the Appalachian Breastfeeding Network’s after hours breastfeeding helpline twice a week so the fact that Union offered courses online made getting back into school fit right into my schedule.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Be patient with yourself…

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My grandfather and my dad because of their selflessness… as for my lactation life, I would have to say Stephanie Carroll. She started as my WIC breastfeeding peer and is now one of my closest friends. She helped me when I had questions and encouraged me to get into the field itself. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the encouragement from all three of them.

 

Amanda Marion:

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Upon completion of my degree, I plan to be the educator I have always dreamt of in the field of lactation and maternal-child health. I want to be able to educate moms who are having difficulties or just need a boost in confidence using evidence-based research. I want to be able to answer anything that they have been misinformed about, or not informed at all about breastfeeding. I want to be able to ease their minds and educate them properly in the way I never was when I was breastfeeding.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I was sitting at my desk one day and decided that I wanted to obtain a bachelor’s degree in maternal-child health since my background experience was in maternal-child health due to my former position. When I was at the CLC course, I remember UIU being mentioned. When I ‘googled’ college that offered a Bachelor’s in Maternal-Child Health, UIU was the first that popped up – and better yet, it was in human lactation!

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I chose UIU because the pathway is going to enable me to obtain the rest of my pre-requisites to sit for the IBCLC exam sooner, rather than later. Taking into consideration all the credits I would receive from another degree I have, my military education/experience, and the generous scholarships I was offered compared to other colleges, UIU was the best fit.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Honestly, it would be nothing. I was in nursing school in my 20’s. Had I continued in nursing school, rather that joining the military, I probably wouldn’t have come as far as I have now with my different degrees, experiences, and finally figuring out that maternal-child health and lactation education is what I am called to do.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. Two coworkers were influential in my pursuing my degree. I worked with a Certified Practitioner in Lactation and Breastfeeding Care (IBCLC) and a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) as well as an Army Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) who both encouraged me and supported me in my goals to obtain my bachelor’s at UIU. The other person is my daughter. Nothing makes me more proud than to see her watch me with a smile on her face while I struggle through online classes while balancing my active-duty military job and taking care of her. It makes me believe that I am her great role model and I hope that one day she can say that I was her most influential person.

Jeanna Spears

Amanda Marion