Starting Healthy – Lisa GreenMills, ’08

RESIZED Lisa GreenMills, '08

Lisa GreenMills found her passion while completing a college internship at Syracuse Healthy Start, a program focused on reducing health disparities and infant mortality in Syracuse. “As I was doing my internship I knew it was what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with women and children and help them.”

GreenMills grew up in an East Syracuse home where helping others was a way of life. Her mother Diane GreenPope was a nurse in the Army. She served in Iraq and retired from military service. She also worked at Crouse Hospital in labor and delivery.

GreenMills was raised along with a brother and a sister, but there was another brother she never knew. Before she was born her brother Brian died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at four months old in 1984. “Even though I never knew him, his death played a role in my interest in infant mortality and my desire to help others,” she said.

GreenMills graduated from East Syracuse Minoa high school in 2003. She came to OCC and majored in Mathematics and Science. GreenMills was an excellent student and was selected for membership in the student honor society Phi Theta Kappa. She was also active in the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, also known as C-STEP. Its goal is to increase the number of college graduates from both ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in technical-related fields and individuals from economically disadvantaged families who are interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, math, engineering and other licensed professions.

RESIZED Lisa GreenPope billboard
While she was a student at OCC GreenMills was highlighted in the College’s marketing campaign, appearing on a billboard in Syracuse.

Drake Harrison is the Director of C-STEP and a huge fan of GreenMills. “There have been a lot of outstanding students that have come through here. Lisa in in the top five. She was an incredible student and an incredible human being. She was always volunteering to help people here on campus and in the community. If you want to pick a model of what a college student should be Lisa is exactly what you would want,” said Harrison.

“Mr. Harrison has been supportive of everything I’ve done, both from my time as a student at OCC and in everything I’ve pursued since graduating. He always checks in on me and I always visit him when I’m on campus,” said GreenMills.

GreenMills earned her degree from OCC in 2008, received a bachelor’s in nursing from SUNY Binghamton two years later and completed a master’s in public health at SUNY Albany. In 2013 she returned to Syracuse Healthy Start where today she is the Program Coordinator. The project supports pregnant women and new families with outreach, case management, health education and community connections. The work Syracuse Healthy Start does is very challenging and very meaningful. “I love having a job where I am helping people. Life can be so stressful as a new parent, but it’s wonderful to be able to support families and help them reach their goals.”

GreenMills lives in Syracuse and has a two-year-old son, Everett. Even though her days at OCC are well behind her, the memories of her experiences are still fresh in her mind. “When I was at OCC I was involved with organizations outside of my major and it kept getting me interested in other things. Whatever your goal is, it’s important to just add to it. Keep learning and having interest in new things. Having that mindset will benefit you. You’ll find new interests. I really loved being at OCC.”