“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” Michelle Obama, Becoming.
Though few may see the opportunity to truly open doors for others, Rachel Drushella is blazing a path and opening doorways in our education system every day. An educator, advocate, and strategist – she has no fear when it comes to driving change. It takes a very unique individual to hold space in kindness while challenging institutional structures and Rachel embodies these skills. We’re extra grateful for her contributions as an advisor to the Walker Tracker DEI Committee. Read on, in this edition of the Influential Women in Wellness series, to learn more about her journey and some wisdom she’s gathered along the way.
Tell us about yourself.
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, I graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Health Promotion and Health Education in 2010. I’ve worked as part of the dynamic team at OEA Choice Trust for the last 6 years on pilot program initiatives, grant administration and technical assistance. I also serve as the Trust’s internal Wellness Coordinator and Walker Tracker representative. I’m passionate about supporting the holistic health and well-being of public educators in my state. Prior to working at the Trust, I worked at OHSU for 6 years in the Sports Medicine and Health Promotion Department helping to oversee nutrition programs for high school students and an internally funded employee wellness program for OHSU staff.
I love exploring the outdoors in my home state while eating and drinking my way across the amazing food scene in Portland. I recently got married in September to my longtime partner and have been enjoying married life with James and our pup Lou. MY ideal weekend includes going for a jog, wine tasting in the Willamette Valley and enjoying a delicious meal at a local restaurant near my NE Portland home.
What is your WHY?
My purpose for starting a career in wellness is my passion for helping others and wanting to make the world a healthier place, in all areas of well-being. Although I didn’t start out my career working with educators, I truly feel I’ve found my calling in supporting those that teach and nurture our children. It’s really special to be part of shifting the culture at an organizational level to create a more caring, supportive and healthy workplace.
I am also driven to keep doing this work to make the health and well-being needs of all educators more equitable. As one of the strategic directives at my organization we are working to infuse a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging (DEIB) lense into all that we do. Supporting the well-being needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) educators specifically is something that I am passionate about and it motivates me to keep pushing for institutional change.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
My advice to my younger self would be to BE KIND, help others and don’t sweat the small stuff! Always strive to be the best version of yourself and never stop learning. Life will throw you lots of curve balls but remember to trust the process and ask for help when you need it. Lastly, take care of your whole self- mentally, emotionally and physically. Get movement in daily, manage your stress and find happiness, the rest will follow.
BE KIND, help others and don’t sweat the small stuff!
Is there a woman who has been influential in your life/path?
Michelle Obama is an influential figure in my life. Her strength, courage and empathy are evident in everything she does and I deeply admire her bravery and authenticity. She is truly a role model for women everywhere and she’s someone I think about often during Women’s History Month.