Nurse practitioner, mother, farmer and karate black belt -- Angela Brown, director of the college's Mary Walker Health Center, leads a busy life that focuses on safeguarding the health of the college's students.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Oswego and raised in Phoenix. I graduated from Phoenix High School. I went to SUNY Brockport for my bachelor of science in nursing and a minor in biology.

Where else have you worked?

For many years, I worked as a nurse. I started at Crouse Hospital on a medical-surgical floor with telemetry -- heart monitoring. I moved from there to the GYN oncology floor. I worked at Planned Parenthood in Syracuse; I loved working there. I moved to a private OB-GYN office for six years. At that time, I became certified as a SANE nurse -- sexual assault nurse examiner -- specializing in collecting forensic evidence and doing rape kits. I got called out to whatever hospital the patient was at. That led to a position at SUNY Upstate in the ER; I worked in the trauma center. I decided I didn't have enough on my plate, so I wanted to go to graduate school and work and raise a family! (Laughs.) I went to graduate school at SUNY Upstate and graduated in 2013 with my family nurse practitioner and my master of science in nursing with a minor in education. 

When did you start working at SUNY Oswego?

In 2013. Actually, when Jean Grant was still here, I worked as an RN helping with physicals and things like that, so I knew the staff here. Jean encouraged me to go back and get my nurse practitioner. I worked as an NP here for two years before I became director.

How did it feel to take over from Liz Burns and, before her, Jean Grant?

Scary. When you train for NP, you don’t necessarily learn things you need as director. It was a challenging transition. Some of the skills I've had to learn are in budget, management, getting out of the health center and learning everybody's role and how the campus functions as a whole. We function as a primary care office, seeing students all day, and don’t really get out and about. It was exciting and challenging at the same time.

What does Walker Health Center do, and what are your duties?

We see students for a multitude of things -- injuries, illnesses, physicals, immunizations, flu vaccine -- pretty much what you'd see your primary care (physician's office) for. I function as a 50-50, so I'm in clinic seeing students about half the time and administrative the other half. I'm in charge as director of the health center and also of Lifestyles in our building, for health education, alcohol and other drugs education and health promotion. I manage staff and our budget. We have a small dispensary here with medications so students don't have to use a pharmacy. Creating new programs -- last year, we started offering transgender care and PrEP, which is pre-exposure prophylaxis (a medication that prevents HIV) -- two things that not a lot of people are offering.

What important programs are continuing under your leadership? 

GYT -- Get Yourself Tested (for gonorrhea and chlamydia) -- had started prior to me. One of the things I've been able to do is really increase the number of community partners we've had for that and the numbers of students tested. The first year it started, I believe we had only 17 students; last year, we had 156 who came to us. A lot of kids come as groups and as friends, and it's really quite a fun event -- it kind of gets people talking about sexual health, which a lot of people don't talk about. There are lots of things I'm happy and proud that have occurred. I don’t think I could have accomplished any of them without our great staff here.

What do you have to say about your staff?

They're amazing. We have four nurse practitioners, one RN, one LPN and a secretary of health services. I have to say they're probably the most intelligent women I've ever worked with. We’re very independent here. We collaborate with each other, we're very functional, we each bring a great piece of our background -- people have worked in oncology or the ER or primary care or gynecological health. The staff of the Lifestyles unit is amazing also -- very inventive in how they deliver their education to students. We have a great team here.

What do you think about the students you've encountered?

I love college health. I know some people think I’m crazy, but this is my favorite age group. It's almost like they're a blank slate. They’re experimenting with things they've never thought about or learned about, trying to figure out who they want to become, and we get to be a little piece of that, teaching them about health care. I love the students here. Everyone is very nice, polite and they're thankful for the services we give them.

What other things do you take part in on campus?

I'm on the Title IX Committee, the Security Committee and, I guess it would be called the Housing Accommodation Committee -- that's myself and Residence Life, Counseling and Disability Services -- for people who need accommodating in their housing due to medical or psychiatric conditions, so we work through those situations.

What do you like to do off the job?

My life is crazy. I have two children that keep me very busy -- they’re involved in a multitude of things. We have a small farm. I have three horses and three goats as well as cats and dogs. I'm also involved in martial arts. In two weeks, I will be achieving my second-degree black belt in karate. I love the outdoors -- hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing.

What else can you tell us about your family?

My husband is a lieutenant in the Syracuse Police Department. My oldest daughter is 14 -- at 14, you can just write "challenging"! (Laughs.) She's musically talented, in marching band and concert band. My other daughter is 11 and in karate -- she's a black belt also.