Kaitlyn Chana doesn't hesitate to step into a leadership role. As a master's student in the Brooks College of Health, Chana has willingly offered to lead others in two areas: helping international students enjoy their American experience and educating young people about eating disorders.
When a group of Chinese students visited UNF from Shandong University, Chana had the opportunity to meet them in class. After connecting with the visiting students, she wanted to do everything in her power to ensure they were able to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience.
"After some one-on-one conversations, I wanted to make sure they were able to experience America through their fellow cohorts' eyes," Chana said. "That's when I asked our international students what they wanted to see, what they would like to do, and where they wanted to go during their time in America." With the help of her UNF classmates, Chana was able to make many of their wishes come true. She helped coordinate events they chose such as bowling hosting family style dinners with their cohort, shopping, a lesson on how to make gelato, and a day at Universal Studios to see Harry Potter.
Chana also has taken the lead in educating others about eating disorders. She is the founder and president of a chartable nonprofit entitled Reel Stories. Real People., Inc. that aims to tell positive stories to encourage open conversations through a multi-media platform spanning various topics, including the subject of mental illness, specifically eating disorders. She has spoken nationally and in local school systems about eating disorders and how people can deal with stress, anxiety, and depression in a healthy outlet. Kaitlyn speaks from experience; for about a decade, she suffered from three different eating disorders, and is now fully recovered and using her pain as her mission in life to help others. Her organization is currently working on producing and filming an educational film titled "EMPTY" to educate high school students nationally about the realities of eating disorders.
"I want to showcase rapid advancements within the medical industry, so people can see firsthand how our community is contributing to provide better care," Chana said. "The best way to communicate this is through stories. That's the backbone of how Reel Stories. Real People., Inc. came to fruition. In my previous career, I was a television news reporter; I understand the importance of combining educational content in a video format that's dynamic and stimulating to ensure the audience retains and comprehends the message. "
As Chana prepares to graduate next fall with a master's degree in business administration and healthcare administration, she hopes to be able to use her talents to work as a C-suite executive in an acute care hospital.
Before Chana leaves UNF, she has one piece of advice for students: "Find your purpose, you need to find your voice," she said. "It would be best if you discovered who you are, what you care about, know your values, and learn what makes you tick. One of the best ways to achieve that level of awareness is by stepping outside of your comfort zone and being open to living your life in constant growth."
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