Ten Minutes With: Zanethia Eubanks ’94
In the Service of Others
Zanethia Eubanks ’94 is an active-duty commander in the United States Public Health Service. She is currently stationed in Washington, DC, as the team lead for baseline studies at the US Department of Agriculture. During the past twenty years she has served at several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Eubanks has been deployed several times, responding to natural disasters and disease outbreak. She considers her work to be her purpose, a calling that found her rather than the other way around.
On how she decided to go into public service:
It was decided for me. Destiny chooses you. Before I graduated from Mount Holyoke I did research at the University of Illinois, Chicago. I wanted to return after graduation, but my grandmother suffered a stroke, and I chose to go back to Atlanta, where I grew up. I took a job as an administrative assistant at a beer distributing company, and one day my boss said, “Z, you are capable of doing more. My daughter works at the CDC and she is going to law school. Maybe you can fill her position.”
Public health reaches and touches all of us.Zanethia Eubanks ’94
On getting her master’s degree:
I was working on a project for the CDC, gathering details about children with birth defects and developmental disabilities. One day a woman asked about the data we were collecting and if we had information to share with her. During a meeting at the CDC, I raised my hand and proposed that we create a newsletter. One of the doctors asked me who I was and said anyone who wanted to improve the program needed an advanced degree. So I walked next door to Emory University, applied to the master’s in public health program, was accepted, and completed the program in less than two years. Later I saw the same doctor, updated him about my degree, and reminded him of my proposal. Better communication was established.
On human trafficking:
While working in Atlanta I took a training course on services for victims of human trafficking. I later learned that Atlanta ranked number one on the Federal Bureau of Investigation list for trafficking youth. I had to weep, get angry, and share my knowledge with others. As a mother, I saw it as my duty to educate people. I helped to ensure that other officers knew what training courses their agencies offered and how they could become more aware of victims of human trafficking in their communities and during deployment.
On how Mount Holyoke made a difference:
As a first-year student I was honored to meet President Elizabeth Topham Kennan ’60 when we were both walking across the Green one day. I began to share some frustrations, and she extended an invitation to join her for tea. She took a special interest in me and served as a mentor, teaching me the importance of seeing the gifts, talents, and abilities in others. I have been chosen to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, and I am humbled by those who have encouraged me and who seek the best in others. And, thanks to President Kennan, my eyes have been forever opened in appreciation of a “gracious” tea.
—Photos by Erin Schaff
This article appeared in the fall 2016 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.
September 12, 2016