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September 2015

As an academic adviser, Rhonda BeLue made a particular impact on Chelsie White while she was earning her master’s degree in Health Policy and Administration (HPA)—an impact that White still values.

“During my time and thereafter at Penn State Dr. BeLue has acted as a mentor to me,” White said. “Her openness to my ideas and her ability to hone my skills in research have had a tremendous impact on my personal and professional journey to date. Dr. BeLue afforded me the opportunity to examine public health, chronic disease, and health disparities both inside and outside the classroom. By doing so, she prepared me with skills well beyond that of an early career professional.”

BeLue, associate professor of HPA, Public Health Sciences, and Demography, has taught at Penn State since 2005 and advised dozens of graduate and doctoral students along the way. For White, she is grateful for BeLue’s guidance leading up to a research presentation at a national conference.

“In order to present at this level, I needed to complete some intensive statistical analysis,” White said. “Dr. BeLue had the foresight to encourage me to try this statistical analysis before I had even completed the related course. While I found this statistical analysis to be incredibly, I was able to complete the analysis with her guidance and support, and ultimately presented at the national conference. This is merely one example of how Dr. BeLue recognized my capabilities before I recognized those capabilities in myself.”



Today, White is a senior technical associate at The MayaTech Corporation, which is a small federal contracting firm in Silver Spring, Maryland. White works closely with health centers and health departments in New York and Massachusetts to routinize HIV screening.

BeLue, who earned her doctoral degree in policy analysis and management at Cornell University, received the 2015 Penn State Multicultural Resource Center Diversity award and was named 2014–2015 Distinguished Honors Faculty with the Schreyer Honors College. Her research related to health disparities in families and children, evaluation methodology, vulnerable populations, and global health has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals.

Particularly, BeLue appreciates her engagement with students, which she described as a “mentoring family.”

“Engaging with students helps me understand how to teach to a variety of learning styles and to get to know students beyond their classroom performance,” BeLue said. “Also, it helps to build a connection with the students. Students that I have the opportunity to engage with are also the ones with who I have long-term professional relationships. Former students with whom I still work with also help mentor my current students.”