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Amanda Cummins

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Clinical Coordinator & Physician Assistant-Certified, 
Wheeling HealthRight 
Wheeling, 29

Wheeling was supposed to be a stepping stone for Amanda Cummins.

A native of Indiana County, Pa., she came to the Northern Panhandle intending to stay long enough to prepare herself professionally for the overseas mission assignment she felt was her life's calling. What happened next, though, surprised even her: Instead of dashing off to fight poverty and disease on foreign soil, she realized how much she was needed to fight that battle here, in the U.S.

She stayed put and now, more than five years later, Wheeling is home.

"I've learned a lot here, including the gift of ‘blooming' where you're planted," she said. "Sinking into this community and learning to give back is a privilege."

Cummins, a devout Christian, credits her parents with instilling a strong sense of community in her. She said they "were just very community driven," and encouraged her to give back.

"They believed in supporting local causes and establishments," she said. "They figured if you have gifts, why not use them to give back instead of self-gain, use them for long-term advancement of the community."

Cummins, who is physician assistant-certified, sees health and wellness as an extension of her faith — "a means toward spirituality, of taking care of the whole person." As clinical director at Wheeling HealthRight, a non-profit free clinic that cares for the under-insured and uninsured, a big part of her job involves building a rapport with clients and developing programs that help improve peoples' lives, like nutrition and smoking cessation.

And even though she's not a native-born West Virginian, she said it "feels like I'm grafted in; I understand the culture."

Cummins fast-tracked her studies at Alderson-Broaddus College, completing both her bachelor's in natural science and her master's in physician assistant studies in just five years, graduating in 2008.

Her husband of four years, Matthew, is a high school chemistry/physics teacher.