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'Quyana' for a year filled with hope, hospitality and kindness: parting words from APHA's president.

IT SEEMS LIKE both a century ago and just yesterday that I sat down to write the first of these "Vital Signs" messages to you. Since then, I have journeyed far in miles, thought and fellowship.

At times, when it seemed that one more security checkpoint line or pair of ankles swollen from a marathon flight would finish me, I was more than compensated and reinvigorated by the enthusiasm, kindness and hospitality that I experienced as I visited state public health association meetings around the country and met with public health professionals in Turkey, China, Inner Mongolia, England and Scotland.

What I have seen as I have met with public health workers here and abroad has filled me with hope for our future in spite of the disappointments and obstacles to our efforts that will always be a part of the human condition. It was an inspiration to see our colleagues at work and at play as they encouraged and mentored students and new public health workers, recognized and honored seasoned colleagues, and celebrated the work of those who man the barricades daily to provide public health services to our populations.

I have appreciated the opportunity I have had this year to share with you the things that I am passionate about in this column. It was good for me to have been obliged to reflect deeply on these issues and to do the work of communicating about them as concisely and cogently as I could. My thanks to all of you who took time to read and especially to those of you who responded to me with such thoughtfulness.

My thanks to all of the APHA staff, leadership and members who have helped to make this experience not only possible but also so very enriching. I am also indebted to all of my co-workers at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the College of Health and Social Welfare who allowed me the freedom to do this important work and who kept the home fires burning in my absence.

This unique year will soon be over, and I know that you will join me in welcoming my dear friend, Dr. Carmen Nevarez, when she becomes APHA president at the close of the Annual Meeting later this month. I can only wish for her a term that is as exciting and rewarding as mine has been.

So here is to all of us who continue to work on our own little patch of the marvelous quilt that is public health. My thanks to all who teach, advocate, research and administrate so that, ultimately, those who practice local, state, national and global public health are prepared and equipped to do the very best job possible for our people. I am honored to call myself one of you and to have had the unspeakable privilege of serving as your president during this past year.

I will leave you with my very best wishes and a beautiful word of thanks that I learned from my Alaska Native friends, "quyana."

Cheryl Easley, PhD, RN
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Title Annotation:VITAL SIGNS
Author:Easley, Cheryl
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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