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By Mitierra Johnson, Environmental Health Research Assistant
Sarah Silapaxay

Sarah Silapaxay is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist for the Gaston County Health Department. In this role, Sarah conducts inspections on restaurants, mobile food units, nursing homes, hotels, schools, and day cares. She also writes permits for pools and tattoo artists, and conducts lead investigations.

Sarah earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Belmont Abbey College. She also played soccer during her time at Belmont Abbey.

After graduation, Sarah decided that she wanted to work in healthcare and started out as an operating room assistant while considering furthering her education.

Before becoming an environmental health specialist, Sarah wasn’t familiar with environmental health and had no experience in the field prior to applying for the job. Sarah took one environmental science course in college, yet her STEM background allowed her to see the field through a different lens.

Sarah learned about the NC Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force through Tonya Zimmerman, the prior regional environmental health specialist who oversaw her county. She has been attending meetings since 2021 and is glad to be representing Gaston County.

Reflecting on her work, Sarah is most excited when she gets results back from an investigation and can figure out the source of lead exposure.

She says, “realizing that my work impacts the lives of children is rewarding”.

Sarah is bilingual and can translate to families, when necessary, which is a huge asset in her field.

She also reflects on the fact that she is relatively new in the field and says that it allows her to bring a fresh perspective to her work. “Every day is different which keeps things new and exciting”, she comments.

Sarah’s biggest accomplishment is starting a Healthy Homes initiative in Gaston County and receiving a grant from NC Child. She says, “I love that I get to help people stay healthy and prevent food-borne illnesses”.

Sarah has a one-year-old son and loves to be outdoors. In her free time, she likes to play soccer with her fiancé.

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