Let’s start today’s feature off with a question to get our brains moving a little bit. What would you say are some of your desires/dreams for our area? Think big; it could be anything! Do you hope Elko gets big enough to where we could sustain having our own NFL or NBA team? Would you love to see that one particular restaurant coming to town; you know, the one that’s making your mouth water right now just thinking about it? Are you simply hoping for somewhere fantastic to take your kids? Maybe you’re thinking the next Disneyland would be great, but you’d settle for a Chuck E. Cheese’s nonetheless. Would you say you even have any goals you’d like to see come to life in our town? Perhaps this something you’ve never even thought of before. And, if that’s the case, maybe give it some thought, because whatever you come up, today’s guest certainty does have the heart to help!
Today, we’re joined by Jeanna Secrist. Depending on when you’re reading this profile, you may have seen Jeanna’s face around town as apart of her campaign for entering the city council. So, in traditional AAT fashion, let’s put a story with that face and get to know Jeanna a little bit! “I grew up here in Spring Creek. I met my husband (Greg) in middle school, through friends, and we started dating in high school and through college. After high school, we left (the Elko area) and said that we were never coming back because this place wasn’t for us, and we moved to Pheonix Arizona. That was pretty good. I have pretty strong faith I would say, so I always try to follow my instinct as far as where there are opportunities, and I just go with it. So, we’ve been all over, but we’ve always ended up learning something or finding some benefit in the process. In Pheonix (for example) I worked full time as an oral surgery assistant and then went to school full time at night. When it was time to start looking at hygiene school, I applied to five schools. On the West coast, hygiene schools are pretty competitive I would say, so I got into one out of the five, and that was where I went. It was in Yakima Washington, and I was there for two years; I had wonderful instructors and wonderful education up there. I was happy for that. After school, we decided to move Twin Falls Idaho because we wanted to be a little closer to home and had some family over there, so we figured that would be a good place to start. I worked for a public health office there (three days a week) and then taught at College of Southern Idaho in their dental hygiene program (two days a week), and I loved both of those jobs. We started our family there, having our two daughters. And after we had our second daughter, I started thinking about the fact that I loved both of my jobs, but maybe I needed to step back and say that my family is more important right now. And that’s when my husband had approached me with the opportunity to move back to Elko. And now, he would tell you that he was shocked that I was so supportive of the idea! But at that time, I just felt like it was the right time. So, we moved back to Elko and Greg started Ruby Mountian Motors and I started working for Dr. Gallagher’s practice, and it’s been really nice. We basically did a full circle around the West coast and then ended up back in Elko!”
Ah, Elko. The classic town that lets people go for a little bit but always brings them back! Well, Jeanna, now that you are back and thriving here, it seems like your next goal is to get even more involved with the city and some of its behind the scenes workings. What sparked your interest in that? “When I got out of hygiene school I got involved with the local hygiene association. I eventually got on the board with the state and then got selected for national leadership training. This really struck my interest in how you can support people and help them do the best they can. In myself, I try every day to do the best I can, but if you can help translate that to other people, then imagine the impact that can have on their lives. Imagine people trying new things, new careers, or working through burning out…no, go find that “thing” that sparked you originally and bring that back! So, that got me started in leadership, but it was actually my husband who came to me one day and brought up the fact that I was spending all of this time volunteering for the hygienists but you’re not even affecting the community or the people around us! So, that got the conversation going. Again, the timing seemed right, and I had to trust my instincts, and here we are!” Awesome! As you look to enter into city involvement, what kinds of things are on your mind when it comes to our city, Jeanna? “There are a few things I’d like to see come to Elko as far as convenience and community involvement goes. Things to do for families. And I think a lot of young families in Elko want a lot of the same things I’m hoping for. Families want to go downtown and walk around with their families. They want to have a nice lunch and then go spend time in the park. And I feel like I can be a positive part of that progress. I get excited when I get to talk to people about what they are passionate about, and I like to help facilitate people with their goals! My husband and I have always been goal orientated, even since college, and some people maybe just never learned that trait or maybe they don’t have someone giving them the little extra push they need to go for their goals; I hope that I can do that for people. I think excitement is what keeps people going.”
Well, I’m excited! And I know you’re excited, Jeanna. But what have you noticed when it comes to the excitement level of others as far as pushing forward goes? “There are a lot of new families here, and they don’t call this place home. It’s temporary. They’ll be here only until they retire or get the next job and that puts you into a funk; it puts you in a sort of limbo. You want to provide a good community for all of these people, but not everybody sees the community in the way that you do. I hope we can find a way around that. I don’t see a lot of progress happening if we don’t change anything. Not bad change, but looking to see the positive parts of change. If you don’t want to move forward, think creatively, work openly with others make committees, and work as a community, then I don’t see progress happening. One person can’t do it all; we all know that.”
So, as someone who is on the side of championing for positive progress, what’s your overall heart for Elko and its people, Jeanna? “I think the people of Elko are wonderful. I think the more people I get to know, both new and old, are all pretty similar in the fact that they want the same things. They want a strong community; they want to walk downtown on a beautiful day and see a few people they know. And I think the people in Elko deserve that because everyone works so hard here. And so instead of people going out of town on their days off, wouldn’t it be awesome if they wanted to stay here more rather than going out of town. And that doesn’t happen overnight…but I can see it!”
Thank you so much, Jeanna! We wish you well in your endeavors! Thank you for helping to keep our smiles white and our goals realized!
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See you around the dentists’ office, Elko!