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Centra In The News

People of Centra, Brittney Aagaard

Published on Monday July 3, 2023
Brittney Aagaard

Fostering educational opportunities and empowering students at Centra

You don’t have to speak with Brittney Aagaard for very long to learn that she has a passion for students of all ages! As the Manager of Student Affairs for Centra’s Office of Medical Education & Student Affairs (OMESA), Brittney leads a team of four coordinators who work to facilitate education programs at Centra such as medical school residencies and college internships. Additionally, she works as the primary liaison between Centra’s legal team and the various academic organizations that Centra partners with such as the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the University of Lynchburg. She also serves as the co-chair of the Lynchburg City Schools and Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance’s Partners in Education Board of Directors.

Brittney has worked for Centra for over six years and in her time at OMESA has held almost every position on the team. After graduating college with a health sciences degree, she was at a crossroads of deciding where to go next in her career and chose to enter the field of healthcare through OMESA instead of going to PA school. While OMESA has changed since she first began working for the department, she explained that her work has only grown more rewarding. Specifically, becoming more involved with community and beginning to invest time and effort into work that will address the present need of replenishing the healthcare workforce after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brittney shared that one of the most challenging parts of her role is unifying education initiatives and programs across Centra with a small team and even less time. She explained that if she had more time and more people, she would love to invest in planning and vision-casting! For Brittney, the most rewarding aspect of her work lies in witnessing the transformative education journeys of countless students and knowing that her efforts have made a positive difference. She went on to say that there have been individuals who participated in an OMESA Career Camp in middle school that then decided to go to medical school and now have a desire to come back to serve our community because of their experiences.
Another way that Brittney and the OMESA Team are actively connecting with students in the Lynchburg area is through Beacon of Hope. Last year, Centra was one of the sites for Beacon of Hope’s summer internship program and hosted four interns. These interns loved their experience so much that Centra was the top-rated internship going into this summer’s program.

During Beacon of Hope’s interview day for the summer program, Brittney and her team interviewed multiple candidates and were able to place 15 interns at Centra. In partnership with Lauren Campbell and Susan Burnette from Centra’s HR Team, Brittney and her team were able to plug students into various departments at Centra and plan what their experience at Centra would include. 

Brittney also shared that she has been grateful that Centra can partner with Beacon of Hope. While OMESA had existing partnerships with Virginia’s Governors School and STEM Academies, Beacon of Hope opens the doors of opportunity and experience to even more students! Brittney explained she wished that she could have participated in an internship program like Beacon of Hope’s when she was in high school. Going on to say, “I grew up in Amherst County, and I wasn’t guided or connected with opportunities like these kids will be. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but now, we get to help students see what they can do!” 

One moving story that Brittney shared was about a student who interviewed with Centra for an internship position. As a young child, he had watched his mother receive care at Centra and this had made such an impact on his life that he decided he wanted to explore what it would look like to be a part of Centra in the future. 
Brittney has been so thankful for how so many different departments within Centra have embraced having an intern. “Our teams have welcomed the opportunity to host a student, and they’re making a huge impact without even realizing it,” she said!

When Brittney isn’t busy at Centra championing the needs of our students and coordinating impactful work, she can be found chasing her two-year-old son, Grayson. At present, he’s obsessed with graham crackers and yellow school buses. Grayson is also one of the things in life that makes her laugh the most, but due to her silly, sporadic sense of humor, random things often make her smile too. As someone who loves to plan, Brittney said, “my best habit is sticking to a routine during the week and always writing down what’s in store for the week from meal planning to random to-dos!”

Centra undoubtedly has benefited both from Brittney’s knack for planning and from her passion for fostering educational opportunities for the students in our communities!