Joynetta Bell Kelly
Tobacco Control and Cessation Program Manager,
Louisiana Department of Health
Becoming a “Policy Expert” in Public Health
As an undergraduate, Joynetta Bell Kelly was unsure what she wanted to do after college. Earning her Bachelor of Arts in English provided the opportunity for broad career exploration, and she decided to focus her early professional life in marketing. It wasn’t until a few years later –– when she took a job as health communications writer and editor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –– that she found her true passion, realizing that “public health was my calling.”
Joynetta’s commitment to health care continued to grow during her three years at the CDC, as well as subsequent jobs with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Louisiana Department of Health. She was eventually inspired to pursue leadership in the field after seeing an ad for Hofstra Law’s Online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy Program. “I have always had a passion for health law, ethics and compliance, so this program was a great fit for me,” she says, adding, “As a wife and future mother with a full-time career, an online program was more convenient.”
Joynetta found the courses and curriculum helped to broaden her skill set and prepare her for new responsibilities. When asked to name which course she liked the most, she has a hard time picking just one. “My absolute favorite courses were Bioethics and the Law, and Public Health Law, Policy, and Ethics,” she says. “I thoroughly enjoyed the work and looked forward to reading, learning and exploring.”
Another course that was extremely beneficial to her was called The ADA: Statutory Interpretation. In fact, Joynetta was able to apply the curriculum to her career almost immediately. After completing this course, she was assigned to work on an ADA compliance project for her job. “It really helped to have the background and understand statutes,” she says.
Today, Joynetta is a tobacco control and cessation program manager working for the Louisiana Department of Health. Since earning her Master’s in Health Law and Policy, she has received a promotion and says she is now viewed as a policy expert in her department. In addition to her professional accomplishments, she also experienced several personal milestones during her time at Hofstra Law, including getting married and giving birth.
Managing all of these life changes at once is a testament to Joynetta’s dedication, but she is also quick to recognize how the level of support offered by her graduate school educators helped her achieve her goals.
“I was quite afraid that my ‘life priorities’ would get in the way of studying, reading and writing papers,” she says, “but was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that most of the professors were very understanding of the fact that we are all adults and have full-time careers and families that come before the program. Although challenging at times, I was perfectly equipped and able to complete all coursework on time and maintained a 3.8 GPA. I am very proud of that.”