Monday, July 27, 2015

UAB Women in Medicine: Claudia Hardy

Claudia Hardy is the program director for the Deep South Network, a National Cancer Institute Community Network Program Center grant awarded to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center. The mission of the Deep South Network is to eliminate cancer health disparities among underserved minorities in rural and urban areas across Alabama and Mississippi.

What responsibilities do you have in your position? What’s the day-to-day like? 
I’m a program director in the Cancer Center for community outreach. A lot of people only know me for the Deep South Network, but I do more than that! People don’t realize the complexity of things I’m responsible for. I have managed the Deep South Network for 15 years and serve as a communication liaison and work with investigators and scientists to develop randomized trials and qualitative research products, in addition to developing culturally appropriate outreach efforts.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of this job is the variety. It allows me to stay connected with real issues and helps me understand how to better work with researchers and scientists as they conduct research.

Were there any parts of getting to this point in your career that were difficult for you?
I never knew for certain at 18 what I wanted to do. My undergrad is in communications and my Master’s is in Public Administration. This job is tailor-made for me. Earning my undergrad degree was tough. I had a professor who told me I’d have a difficult time in my field, so I’m always up for a challenge. He retired last year and invited me to his retirement party. I got to tell him that I made a liar out of him, and he said I made him proud.

Do you have a hard time balancing work and personal life? How do you manage that?
I’m much better than where I was. Work will always be there. I’ve been here for 16 years. I travel to places and have to work some evenings and Saturdays. I’ve made relationships with vulnerable people that bleed into my personal life that I hold near my heart, particularly with minorities, where trust is not always automatic. These work relationships have become personal. But I think I’ve become much better at balancing. I just have to say to myself sometimes, “Hey, I’m off the clock!”

What advice do you have for young women trying to choose a career?
I’m always encouraging young women in particular to know what it is they want to do and it will pay off if you do work you’re called to do. It makes the tough times easier because you know in your heart this is what you’re meant to do.

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