November 2012

A familiar face but an unusual occupation

LaQuana Palmer is a familiar face in the Saint Augustine’s University community. Ms. Palmer wears bold framed glasses on her friendly face that always seems to bear a big smile. She is close to 5’7 in height, which is about average — but in no way does she have an average occupation.

As Public Health Educator for Wake County Human Services, Palmer is a safe-sex advocate, working to create awareness among young adults and teenagers of how to protect themselves from Sexually Transmitted Infections and Diseases. She has been a host and aid to numerous programs at St. Aug, promoting safe sex and awareness.

Students fill entire lecture halls to come hear her presentations, watch her slideshows, play her games and interact with her. Students love her directness—as well as the goodies she gives out as giveaways, such items as male and female condoms, lubricants, condom key chains. Faculty loves her approach and emphasis on protecting the body.

Because of Palmer’s seven years of experience, she can change her presentation to suit any audience, although she almost always has a message for females and a separate message for males that all lead up to the same point; “Use safe barriers and even doing that, go get tested.”

She brings along a STD/STI testing staff so that students can get tested on site. She always gives out protective barriers and a list of nearby place to get tested (including our own Gordon Health Center), in the event that she has not brought a testing staff or for students that do not want to get tested at the event.

“HIV/AIDs have affected the African American/Black community tremendously, including my very own family,” Palmer said. “I want to be part of the reason young people like yourselves take preventative measures.”

Not only is she an advocate for Saint Augustine’s University but she also makes presentations at Shaw University and all over the Wake County and Triangle area. Palmer says she couldn’t imagine having any other career.

“Being able to educate others has been a blessing for me,” she said.

— Naomi Afari