In her 21 years at MSK, Tatanisha Peets has grown professionally and personally, working in Cytology, Pathology and now in Food and Nutrition services.
Currently the Patient Experience Manager in Food and Nutrition Services, Tatanisha began her career at MSK as a secretary in the Cytology Service of the Department of Pathology before becoming an Office Assistant in the Breast Service of the Department of Pathology. During this time, she also earned a master’s degree in public health and was introduced to a possible career in Food and Nutrition.
“To complete the dietetic internship portion of my public health program, I had to switch to part-time work at MSK, but was fortunate enough to be able to perform that internship at MSK in Food & Nutrition Services,” Tatanisha explains. In another stroke of luck, one of the staff dietitians in the hospital transferred to a regional location, opening up a full-time spot that Tatanisha applied for and was offered, facilitating her return to MSK. After seven years in that role, she assumed her current position.
The Road to Wellness
Tatanisha and her older brother were born and raised in the Bronx by parents who are from St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. She credits her family with inspiring her career choice.
“My grandmother was an herbalist, and my parents were very involved in nutrition in our upbringing,” she says. “They made our baby food and gave us supplements. My dad was a boxer when he was younger and went to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. There was a lot of discipline and focus on education, health and fitness.”
Tatanisha attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where she earned a degree in psychology. She then went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from Hunter College and is currently in the dissertation phase of a doctorate at the CUNY School of Public Health.
The theme of 2022’s Black History Month, health and wellness, is a topic that resonates with Tatanisha.
“It is critical to understand that in order to be ‘well’ you need many things — certainly physical and physiological needs for things like exercise and nutrition have to be met, but also, psychological needs. Wellness encompasses the whole person — what we refer to as ‘social determinants of health.’ There are many factors that contribute to overall health.”
Looking Inward During Black History Month
“For Black History Month, I want to impart that our history is everyone’s history, especially in this country,” Tatanisha says. “We carry a lot of historical trauma and modern trauma and it is important to tap into that and understand the impact it can have on a mental and physiological level. Then we can start to work through that pain and hurt and channel it and manifest it in a different way.”
Tatanisha believes that Black History Month is an important time not only for each of us to reflect and learn, but also a time to challenge our own personal beliefs.
“There is subconscious bias woven into the fabric of our society,” she says. “I believe that Black History Month is an opportunity to not only highlight and celebrate individuals in the collective diaspora, but a time for everyone to reflect on their underlying perceptions, challenge stereotypes, and take a moment to learn.”