Her contributions to the health education profession are immeasurable. Since graduating from Brockport some four decades ago, Becky Smith ’64/’72
has dedicated her life to not only teaching future health educators but also advancing and promoting the field. She played a direct role in developing the credentialing system that is now used by more than 10,000 health education specialists nationwide and will now have a permanent impact on The College at Brockport as the result of her bequest to fund an annual lecture series.
“The concept is to select a scholar among the outstanding health education professionals in the nation and to bring that person to Brockport,” says Smith. “The hope would be that the presentation would be available not only to students and faculty but to the whole College and community.”
Smith says the overall purpose of the lecture series is to demonstrate the value of Brockport’s Health Science program, noting the field has never been more important than it is today.
“Health education programs are often unknown and rarely recognized but are very critical, particularly in today’s world,” she says. “We are all going to have to participate aggressively in our own health care and the selection of our own health insurance policies. The field is going to be much more consumer-oriented, and people are going to have to engage in a lot more health choices.”
After earning her bachelor’s from the College, Smith spent the next three years teaching at a public school in the Southern Tier region of New York. That was followed by a six-year stint teaching at the Brockport Central School District. During that time, she earned her master’s at Brockport in 1972. She would then go on to the University of Illinois to obtain her doctorate before spending the next decade serving as a professor at three different institutions.
In the mid-1980s, Smith was selected as the Executive Director of the American Association for Health Education at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She would serve in that capacity for more than 20 years and was also a longtime executive editor of the American Journal of Health Education
In the mid ‘90s, Smith initiated the development of the first National Standards for Health Education, grades K-12, through a collaborative project between the American Cancer Society and the American Association for Health Education. Over 300,000 copies of the standards were distributed and utilized across the U.S. during the following decade to change the focus and delivery of school health education.
Smith’s reach in the profession hasn’t been limited to the U.S. She spent 10 years working with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education as a member of its Board of Trustees. In that capacity, she attended meetings around the world.
“It was very good,” Smith says of that experience. ““I got to know people from all over the world and learned a lot about health promotion in other countries.”
Smith is currently working as a visiting professor of Community Health Education in the Department of Health and Human Performance at Cleveland State University. She is also actively involved with Brockport as a member of the School of Health and Human Performance Board of Ambassadors as well as the planning committee for her class’s 50th Reunion in spring 2014.