Dr. DeMoncheri (Dena) Harris MSA ’06 is one of many Trinity alums working hard on the frontlines to fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Harris has been a health scientist with the human studies team for the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 2014.
She was deployed to Hawaii with the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine Airport Center at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on the island of Oahu, as a Public Health Advisor where she had the honor of working on the frontlines with her peers helping to screen passengers from China and Iran.
Last summer she did a remote deployment with the Health Department Taskforce Field Deployment Unit as an Assistant Team and Deputy Deployer for Pre-Positioning. In this capacity, she was responsible for the deployer vetting process for field and remote deployments.
Dena enjoys her job and the opportunity to help others while making a positive contribution to society. She has always had an interest in science. “I was definitely a science nerd,” says Harris. “I started with laboratory research and then I eventually did some clinical research at Emory and found that I liked public health research and working with people.”
Dr. Harris was looking for a small campus to get her master’s degree and through research found Trinity. She selected Trinity due to its small campus and ability to receive one on one instruction due to smaller class sizes. She also liked that the Trinity programs catered to working adults and allowed her to work during the day while still learning with other professionals in the evening. She graduated in 2006 with her MSA in Public and Community Health, and was part of the first cohort to graduate from the program.
She gives a big thank you to Dr. Barry-Oliver, who was her capstone professor at the time and was instrumental in her success during her last year of the program.
“After I left Trinity, I moved to California to get a PhD, finished up my doctoral research in New York and eventually found myself in Georgia working at Emory University doing a clinical research study in the Department of Emergency Medicine; a few years later I was hired at the CDC. “It was a dream come true to work at the CDC, the best public health agency in the world.”
Harris received recognition in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), October 2, 2020, Vol. 69, No. 39 issue for her contributions during the deployments to the state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) HDTF for the COVID-19 emergency public health response.
She says,” After working on deployments as well as my everyday job, I would definitely advise others not to take life for granted.” She notes, “Take the importance of good hygiene very seriously. People are dying. People are not taking this (COVID-19) seriously until it happens to them or a loved one. It is very simple to wear a mask and social distance. You would be surprised at how basic hand washing and wearing a mask can really save lives!”
In her spare time, Dena likes to write books and has a small publishing company called The Black Orchid Publishing Co. She has published several books and is currently working on her next book entitled, From the Desk of Dr. Harris: A Public Health Guide for African-Americans.
——————By Stephanie Melvin, Director of Alumnae/i Relations