Laura Zarate '23 Makes History at Mercy College

Laura and student

Laura Zarate ’23 recently became the first Mercy College student to earn the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. This nationally recognized credential is given to those who have voluntarily completed a national certification exam, demonstrating mastery of the required competencies and their commitment to continued professional development.  

“I wanted to become certified so I can educate populations that really need resources and help,” said Zarate, who will graduate this month with a bachelor’s degree in health science with a concentration in health promotion. “Being Mercy's first student to earn the CHES certification is a big deal. And because I’m Latina, female and from an underserved community, this accomplishment feels even more important.” 

The CHES credential also presents a way for professionals to differentiate themselves in the job market. As of 2022, there were only 781 health educators in New York State who had earned the CHES credential. 

“This is an important step forward for Ms. Zarate in her professional life and demonstrates the excellence of our growing undergraduate health science concentration in health promotion,” said Charis Davidson, DrPH, CHES, co-director of the Health Science Program and director of the health promotion concentration. 

Mercy’s Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a concentration in health promotion prepares students for evidence-based practice in health promotion — one of the core disciplines in public health. Students studying health promotion can seek careers as community health educators in a range of settings or advance their health studies by pursuing degrees such as a master’s in public health. 

Health promotion aims to help people increase their control over and improve their own health. A health promotion professional working as a health educator, for example, might consult with a patient recently diagnosed with diabetes to help them understand what diabetes is and how to manage the disease.  

To learn more about Mercy College’s Bachelor of Science in Health Science, concentration in health promotion program, please click here.