Meet Christian Marks of Nashville, Tennessee. She serves as Chair of the 2017-18 Tennessee Advocacy Committee and is a research scientist (PhD student) at Vanderbilt University.
How long have you been a volunteer with the AHA and in what capacity? My relationship with the AHA started when I was awarded a scientific AHA fellowship for my research in July of 2015. After becoming a fellow I began working to spread the mission of the AHA. I now sit as the Chair of the AHA Tennessee Advocacy Committee to promote the mission of improving heart health in the state.
Who or what inspires you to help and volunteer your time to the work of the AHA? I am motivated by scientific researchers whose dedication to finding cures has allowed for breakthroughs in health care. Hearing the stories of people affected by heart disease and working alongside scientists searching for cures makes it clear to me that heart health in our communities is an important mission that we all need to be working to support.
What heart healthy issue is most important to you and why? When I was 19 I suffered from a blood clot and that has made me more aware and passionate about heart health. I think we can also teach our community tools, like CPR, that can save the lives of those around us. I think we can also teach and encourage children to lead healthy and active lifestyles. By bringing more knowledge to our communities we can make them healthier!
What are two ways you keep yourself healthy? I am very active in the rock climbing community in Tennessee. I love to spend time in the beautiful state parks around us while getting great exercise climbing and hiking. I also enjoy the beauty of my community by using the trails around the city to go for a a jog.
How is your community healthy that makes you proud? I am very proud of Nashville for supporting complete streets in an effort to make the city more walkable. I also love that there are a number of trails around Nashville that make getting outside and going for a walk or a jog very accessible for everyone!
How do you stay updated on current public policies in your state? I am an active member of the You’re the Cure network and that is a great way to keep up with policies that involve health. I also try to communicate with my state representatives about what I would like to see happen in our state and communities.
Have you attended a state or federal lobby day on behalf of the AHA? If so, please briefly explain your experience. I helped to coordinate a state lobby day for Vanderbilt student scientists for the first time in 2016. Legislators made it very clear that they love to hear from their constituents and that these types of meetings have a large influence on their decisions. Participating in a lobby day made it clear to me that it is our duty as citizens to speak with our elected officials so that they can make choices that we would like to see implemented in our communities and our state. As I scientist, I would love to see more events that increase scientific communication with our elected officials and the public.
What have you learned in your time being a You’re the Cure advocate? By advocating with You’re the Cure, I’ve learned that everyone can really play a major role in the shaping the policies that affect health in our communities. I’ve also learned that a few people can have a big effect when it comes to educating others.
Why would you tell a friend or family member to join You’re the Cure? I would tell anyone, not just friends and family, that you can have a huge influence on the laws of your state. Volunteering with the AHA also gives you an opportunity to promote health and find a group of people who have similar experiences and passions as you!
Tell us one unique thing about yourself. I played goalie for my university soccer team while earning my bachelor’s degree and I can peel crawfish faster than anyone I know in Tennessee.