July Featured Advocate – Nisha Beharie
By Zulay Carrillo on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
President John F. Kennedy stated that, “The logic of the Peace Corps is that someday we are going to bring it home to America.” Nisha Beharie does just that. After she assisted in health education and sustainable prevention efforts in the Dominican Republic, Nisha brought home those theories. Along with pursuing a career in Public Health, Nisha also “brings it home” through advocacy in New York. In her latest effort, she is teaming up fellow New York City advocates in organizing district-based meetings with members of Congress.
Nisha became involved with the National Peace Corp Association (NPCA) soon after her return from the Dominican Republic in 2001. Eleven years later, she still believes in the power of advocating for the Peace Corps and has been an important advocate from New York’s 20th Congressional District. Now a PhD candidate at the City University of New York (CUNY), a part time Senior Program Coordinator at the Urban Institute for Behavioral Health (UIBH), and a full time mother, Nisha somehow still finds the time to assist in our advocacy efforts. Her enthusiasm about the Peace Corps is not only fascinating but the way she speaks of why it is so important to her is also inspiring.
She believes advocating for the Peace Corps is a way for her to, “take part in moving the Peace Corps agenda forward knowing that it has such a truly positive impact in countries around the world as well as for the volunteers.” Nisha also said she finds advocacy very rewarding, as she is able to keep up to date on issues surrounding the Peace Corps and is able to see how her representatives support the Peace Corps through NPCA advocacy initiatives.
One important element of the Peace Corps is the domestic benefits that are fostered when Volunteers return home. Therefore, I was curious to find out how her experiences affected her career goals back home and was amazed at how much she has used her experiences in the Dominican Republic and applied them to her current job. Nisha’s goal this past year has been to connect members of the Urban Institute for Behavioral Health to the Interboro Regional Health Information Organization to heighten the efficiency of health care services and ultimately reducing cost of care while improving standards. Meanwhile, she is also working on her dissertation, which aims to investigate family functioning among residents of New York City family homeless shelters.
When asked if there was anything else she would like to share with the NPCA community about advocating for the Peace Corps, Nisha said, “Start with your family and friends! I can’t wait to tell my son when he gets older about my experiences in Peace Corps and to take him to the Dominican Republic to share in their culture with me.”